One sure thing in life’s journey is that we will make mistakes and we will fail.
Making mistakes is a path of discovery.
On this subject, I’m reminded of my friend who has invented eight devices now in use and registered by the Office of U.S. Patents.
I’ve registered things too: vehicles, my writing, credit cards, post office boxes, a driver’s license, and more. Together, they mark the official unfolding of my life.
One turning point in my life that had no official registration, though, is my yoga practice.
I go to class and register my presence by writing my name on a sign-up sheet. When I enter the yoga studio, I don’t need a photo I.D.; I don’t even write my address. When I practice at home, only my body and mind take note. But in yoga, something always registers within me.
It blooms inside me with a biological and mental stamp—accruing over time—to the construction of what I would call, a re-invented person. It’s true, I’m not just a lion exhaling with force, I’m an avatar for simhasana(Lion’s Pose), and my three diaphragms are roaring together and animating a small exhale of elemental power. Am I the lion king? No, not by a long shot, but my body doesn’t know that and the lion-hearted roar of simhasana speaks to something “far more deeply interfused,” to borrow the words of William Wordworth.
Before I practiced yoga, I forged ahead to meet my goals but was not always mindful of the people around me. And while pursuing goals and career was (at that time) my chosen way of life, it was also costly. I now realize how I bought into cultural assumptions about work too quickly.
I believed that advancement in my career was the most important thing. But I’ve learned important lessons since while listening to others talk about yoga. Richard Freeman, author and well-known teacher, once made the statement:
“Yoga can ruin your life. Yoga can also ruin your career because you feel so nice when you do it that you’ll be less aggressive and you tend to like people more.”
While he didn’t say it directly, “ruining one’s life” through yoga corresponds to a grand awakening. This awakening and registering of mind and body causes the yogi to question the cultural scripts they’ve been given and the natural outcome of a yoga practice. Over time, this brings the yogi’s awareness into a straight-up clash between one’s experiences in yoga compared to their experiences everywhere else.
After establishing a dedicated yoga practice, some things that used to matter to me simply passed away. There is freedom in letting go of things that we were given, but perhaps never really bought into in the first place.
Nobody has to do yoga to realize the competition we experience on the way to career advancement is difficult. Not all competitors are nice or care for one another. But yoga offers an alternative to aggression and competition, and its mindset accepts failure as something to witness in ourselves and accept about ourselves. This brings a wider perspective to work and live off the mat—and provides us with a deeper sense of peace and well-being.
The awakened mindset takes place when yogis register what their hearts are saying. Following the heart means getting truer to one’s self. But getting truer to one’s self is not on any business mission statement, now is it?
Yoga is a process of awareness that starts—but doesn’t end—with going inward and rewriting life. The poet Tazima Davis captures this personal invention and dynamism in her piece “Sadhana Reveals”:
“This journey with a path endlessly inward,
beckons with fiercely eager
yearning, yet profoundly tranquil
calm rewrites my life,
unfolding as moments of sparkling truth…”
Rewriting lives has become a big-dollar industry in America; life-coaches and plastic surgeons are busy. But a reinvention doesn’t really take money, it takes a friend. Often our best friend is the counsel of our own heart.
My flesh and blood inventor friend is far away from me, but my new friend—yoga—is close. Now I engage in regular intimate conversation with this friend. We enjoy a lively thread and a mutual registration of presence and benefit.
By the experience of trial and error, every drop of my being responds to yoga’s unfolding. As this happens over time, I become aware that something has changed, and my life is slowly being ruined—just the way it needs to be.
Watch the video below!