During my morning Yoga practice, a thought came to me about a change I should make in it (something about it’s energetic qualities). It was a special moment – a new, fresh and subtle perspective – a crystallization. It happened in an instant and then, within a few seconds, a second thought appeared in my mind: “I should have done this a few weeks ago”.
The Yoga Sutra – Chapter 1 Sutra 30 offers a list of 9 obstacles/distractions to clear perception: disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, over-indulgence, delusion, non-achievement & instability. The problem is that when perception is clouded it doesn’t know it!
So the next Sutra (31) gives us a diagnostic tool – how do we know our perception has been clouded? These are the signs: suffering, negative thinking, unsteady body & unsteady breath. Yes it’s that simple – when our perception is clouded we don’t feel good. This works both ways so – when we don’t feel good it is because our perception is clouded.
I place attention and effort in my life (off the mat) and my practice (on the mat), on being present. I call on faith to put aside inhibitions from the past and hesitations about the future. In my practice (on the mat) I do this by working with familiar postures and going into subtle details in body and breath – remaining open to experience and making small adjustments. Simply put, I’m doing my best to do my best.
Today’s experience was mixed. On one hand, I clearly knew (still do!) what to do about my practice, I also know it needs to be a gradual process over time. On the other hand, I was harsh and judgmental about my past choices – it felt wrong – it was “negative thinking”. My sweet moment of clarity came with the distraction of doubt.
Yoga Sutra Chapter 4 Sutra 12 says:
“The substance of what has disappeared as well as what may appear always exists. Whether or not they are evident depends upon the direction of change.” (translation by TKV Desikachar)
This is a warning that no amount of practice will change the past. All of our experiences remain within us, they are a part of we are. They may be dormant, but they are forever present. We must always be vigilant because we never know when they may reappear. They are tricky and slippery – just when we think we got it – they pop up and pull us down.
“I should have…” is a bad call. When it happens you should recognize it for what it is – clouded judgment. Embrace it so it doesn’t sow the seeds for future “I should have’s….”. Don’t let it take away from your present clarity and experience. What you realize now is the truth of this moment. What you realized before was the truth of that moment. Appreciating them both is a good practice for the truths yet to come.