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Will and Surrender

Last week, I wrote about the practice of meditation, and why it is so important in the yogic tradition. This week, we examine how both will and surrender are important to the practice.

In Yoga Sutra 1.12, Patanjali says that the way to still the mind is through "Abhyasa & Vairagya" or "practice and non-attachment" - balancing will and surrender.We know that in order to improve ourselves or to get better at anything requires practice - speaking a foreign language, learning a new dance choreography, playing chess or tennis. For those of us who practice yoga asana - we strive through practice to improve our asana - and for those of us who practice the 8 limbs of yoga philosophy - we know that all of these 8 limbs must be part of our daily practice. However, we must not be too attached to our outcome or achievement. As I have mentioned previously, yoga is not about crossing off a "To Do" list, and the results of our daily practice are rarely immediate. Usually they occur over time. You've probably heard the saying, "It's the journey not the destination." We may be practicing yoga or learning meditation or striving to be a better person or to "become enlightened", but it's not like one day we wake up and we are perfect. Nope. Our earth journey requires continual striving. One day you may feel at great peace, and then something happens in your life or in the greater environment and you must shift your thinking or your way of living and adjust. Life is not static but constantly changing. And so, we must dust ourselves off and pick ourselves up again. With continual practice of meditation, it does become easier. We become more mindful and aware of the movements of the mind - we can examine them and perhaps stop ourselves from saying something we regret or acting in a way we regret later. By noticing our thoughts and actions, we can change how we react to the world around us and be better prepared for whatever changes do come our way. Even in the midst of a storm we can find our own inner sense of calm and peace. Eventually, with practice, it becomes easier to maintain that peaceful state. Namaste.

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