The nature of practice refers to any skill we want to learn, from how we treat our family members to developing a unique talent to the work we do in the world. The Yoga practice is much like cultivating a garden. That which we’re attending to will grow with steady attention. Steady improvement comes from sustained and direct engagement over a period of time.
1. Practice to improve, not to repeat.
2. Aim for quality of practice.
3. Practice consistently, even when you hear yourself saying you’d prefer not to.
4. Practice for many years knowing the way in which you practice will change.
5. Spend dedicated time around a good teacher.
6. Find a place (sangha) where you can share in the enthusiasm of your practice with like minded people (I might know a place).
7. Your breath is your best friend. It will tell you everything you need to know about your body and mind. Become your breath’s best friend by listening to it often.
8. Train your attention toward steadiness. On the mat, we talk about the “drishti,” or one pointed focus. When placing your attention on an external object, use your peripheral vision and relax your vision. Too much intensity creates agitation. As there is an external “drishti,” there is also an internal “drishti.” You will notice that where you place your internal attention changes the experience of the posture. In life, we learn to bring awareness to what is happening internally, moment by moment.
9. Use your practice to listen and observe what you are hearing yourself say. And then ask if what you just heard is really true. Often we tell ourselves stories about ourselves or others that come from a very long time ago and are no longer relevant, but we’re often not aware that that’s what we’re doing.
10. Grasping is just another form of doubt. Practice wholeheartedly but without attachment to results. Craving or clinging to a particular outcome divides the mind from the present moment.
11. Give yourself to each moment, whatever the moment has for you. We practice to learn how to be with whatever life has to offer us.