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Back to School

(Written Fall 2012)

ImageWhew. It’s a good thing that making regular blog postings wasn’t one of my resolutions for 2012. These past 8+ months have been joyfully full – I’ve moved back to dc, continued offering classes and workshops in DC and Frederick, launched an mp3 series, and made another pilgrimage to India. As summer winds down and school starts again, there is a palpable rise of both excitement and anxiety in the air. The excitement is great, but the anxiety certainly isn’t and can often be caused by attachment to results. Because of this, I find that the following lines from the Bhagavad Gita are particularly useful for students:

You have the right to work, but never to the

fruit of the work. You should never engage in action

for the sake of reward, nor should you long for

inaction. Perform work in this world, Arjuna,

as a man established within himself – without

selfish attachments, and alike in success and

defeat. For yoga is perfect evenness of mind.

Those who are motivated only by desire for the

fruits of action are miserable, for they are constantly

anxious about the results of what they do. When

consciousness is unified, however, all vain anxiety

is left behind. There is no cause for worry, whether

things go well or ill. Therefore, devote yourself to

the disciplines of yoga, for yoga in skill in action.” (Chapter 2, 47-50)

I remember when I was in graduate school, there were times when I would feel so anxious about how a professor might read my paper, it would become much more difficult to work because less of my energy and awareness was available for thinking and writing. I was so attached to the end result that my capacity to actually do the work and contribute my research was diminished.  At other times, when I was focused on research and writing in itself to contribute, not only was I happier working, but my work was better. Now, much of my work is on the yoga mat and this teaching becomes more physically obvious. In shapes that are challenging for me, like pinchamayurasana, when I think about placing myself upside down as a goal and attach myself to whether is it going to happen, I can feel so anxious that it becomes impossible, but when I attend to the key actions of pressing the forearms down, lifting through the legs and pulling the inner thighs together, it becomes possible.  Perhaps, better said, I am able to do the work precisely because I am not focusing on receiving a reward to my ego. By not focusing so much on achieving a final shape or end result, more attention is available to engage in every moment. Maybe think about this when you are writing that first or final paper. 🙂

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