I heard this about a year ago from a bikram yoga instructor during a class in New York City. Thank god I did. It changed my life.
Bikram yoga, for those of you who don’t know, is a 90 minute series of yoga postures performed in a room heated to about 105 degrees (often hotter). About 40 minutes into the class, you’ve completed the standing postures, and are beginning the floor series. One would think that getting down to the floor work would be the easy part, but you soon learn in Bikram yoga there is no easy part.
The floor work is just as intense as the standing, and I soon noticed that it was during the floor work that my mind tended to wander the most, and where I tended to ‘check out’ or talk myself into giving up. Lying there stomach down, face turned to one side, I’d start an eye dart frenzy around the room looking for anything outside of myself to distract me from the heat, the smells, the sweat, the difficulty.
One day when I was extra hot, extra anxious and extra close to running out the door, I heard the magic words “keep your eyes on your own towel” and my focus pulled to within about 3 inches of my nose, to the tiny fibers of the damp white towel I was lying on.
Suddenly the room did not seem so hot, I felt especially relaxed, balanced, grounded and that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. My body indulged in a huge sweet deep breathe as I experienced my own energy, the exhale of a lifetime and the deepest surrender.
It was a homecoming to my inner knowing, strength, spirit.
Ironically, all that eye darting outside of myself that I thought would help actually made the moment way harder. And it took a ton of energy, too. Because I have practiced yoga for over 17 yeas, I know that it is a great and subtle teacher, and that patters that reveal themselves on the mat are often found functioning in our daily lives as well. After class I continued my yoga off the mat by getting curious about where else this pattern could be at work in my day to day life. I investigated where else I may be ‘checking out’ by seeking comfort/guidance/strength or connection outside of myself in other people or things.
When we are on a committed spiritual path, subtle patterns or behaviors that show up during yoga are keys, tips, inroads to personal growth.
I realized that I do often seek outside of myself for answers, guidance, relief, surrender and that that is actually exhausting. It seems like a quick fix and the easy way out, yet it takes way more energy than tuning into our own wisdom that’s inside. Strengthening our connectoin to our own spirit is actualy the quickest way to an answer, it’s the most epic shortcut ever, because it’s actually everpresent.
This was a powerful moment for me, and continues to impact me not only during Bikram, but also anytime I notice that I am caught up in an ‘eye dart’ day to day.
The more closely involved you stay with your inner world, the better control you have over directing it in alignment with what you are wanting from your life moment to moment.
To what questions are you looking for answers outside of yourself? Remember that in doing so you are choosing to ignore your own spirits knowing and wisdom, and to place your power in the hands of someone who should never be granted that responsibility.
There are moments that I still do seek outside of myself, all the time, but when I do I continually remember to tune in, sit in my meditation or connect in one of my many practiced ways to bring myself to the shortest route to the right answer everytime. Even if what you decide does not seem ‘right’, accepting it as as so will turn it into a useful lesson, which in turn makes it right every time.
Remember that you’ve got direct instant access to your greatest guide at all times, ‘keep your eyes on your own towel’ and let it in…