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On to the blog…
I think it’s safe to say we’ve all gotten a prescription from a doctor at some point in our lives. For most of us, it’s quite easy to follow along with taking it, too. I mean, under the authority of a doctor it feels fairly obligatory to take the prescribed medicine, or even foolish not to, doesn’t it? But what about our own prescriptions?
Whether you realize it or not, we give ourselves prescriptions for better health and well-being, perhaps even more mojo, all the time. Be it a new exercise routine, or an eating habit, a financial budget, a morning routine, or even…a yoga challenge, we can always come up with an idea and a plan for some form of “medicine” that we believe will better ourselves. Just think about it: how many prescriptions for more mojo have you come up with for yourself this year? I’ll bet it’s more than a few. Personally, I can count over 70 just looking at the wall next to my desk where I keep my Yearly Vision and Monthly Goals worksheets thumb-tacked up for daily viewing. Yes, I’m one of THOSE doctors. Don’t hate. How many of my own pills have I swallowed? About half. That leaves another half of my sad little pills sitting around on the table, wondering if they’ll expire before fulfilling their sacred purpose. What about you? How many of your own prescriptions have you managed to take this year?
Now, this inventory exercise is not intended to make us feel like turds, so don’t worry if you’ve left a bunch of sad, lonely prescriptions lying around on the table. It’s really just to acknowledge a tendency with which we ALL struggle. Namely, that while there is some effort involved in identifying and formulating a personal prescription, getting it filled and ready to take, the real litmus test of our resolve and our ultimate progress is in the day-to-day drudgery of remembering to take our own little pill.
Why is that? After all, many of our own prescriptions are so great that they even have the potential to prevent us from needing those doctor-prescribed pills. And yet, we all struggle at some point, maybe even countless points, to carry out our own prescriptions for happiness and health. I’m not sure I can give a single answer to the question, “Why?” For some of us, we need an outside authority driving us to follow through. For others, the energy that comes with novelty is just greater than that of the familiar, the routine. Really, there are a million reasons why we don’t carry out our own mojo prescriptions. Some might even venture to call them excuses. I say they’re just components of our human nature, given that we ALL struggle in the same fashion at some point in our lives.
So that leaves us with the more critical question that I’d like to focus on: How? How do we find the resolve, the commitment, the fortitude to fulfill our own personal prescriptions? BKS Iyengar, sage that he was with regards to yoga, nails us with this:
Those who fail to emerge from solely imaginative thoughts never command respect; they remain lightweights. We reserve our greatest respect for those who transform a panoramic and penetrating vision into reality. As a young man, Mahatma Gandhi imagined an India independent and free of British rule, yet it took him a lifetime of unremitting labor, of tapas, to realize his dream. Tapas is the key here. The work implies intense, purifying heat, a fire that, like the alchemist’s, transforms base metal into gold. Imagination is the flickering flame, the coolest part of the fire. Dancing flames give light to reveal shape, which in yoga terminology is the subtle counterpart of fire. What is an idea, a concept, but a shape in the mind? The work before us is to blow on the fire with the bellows of tapas, so that it becomes intensely hot and transforms the shapes of mind into reality. Asana practice brings mind and body into harmony for this task. Your mind is always ahead of your body. The mind moves into the future, the body the past, but the self is in the present. The coordination between them that we learn in asana will enable us to turn the shape of our visions into the substance of our lives. (Light on Life, 157)
So, if it all boils down to tapas, our inner fire, that spurs us to take the steps that make our plans reality, how do we find it? More importantly, how do we stoke it, and sustain it? Well, I wish it were as easy as 1, 2, 3 little steps I could put into a neat little infographic for you. But frankly, it’s not that easy. In fact, it’s damn hard. The truth is, I don’t have the first clue what motivates you any more than you might know what motivates me. All I can do is remind you that this is precisely WHY we dedicate ourselves to practices like yoga, that serve as the bellows to stoke the flames of our inner fire, lighting the way so we can take our steps with clarity of vision and strong determination to see our own prescriptions through to fulfillment. Your prescriptions for bettering yourself are yours, just as mine are mine, and the daily work of taking them from idea to firmly-rooted reality is up to each of us. We can and must encourage each other to keep going when we see a friend stumble. But, ultimately, we each have to take our own steps, every day.
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