"Who's Driving this Thing?"
"Who's Driving this Thing?"
By Ella Luckett
You're on a bus and it's jerky. Speeding up too fast, slamming on the breaks. You're holding on for dear life as you apologize for falling on the person next to you. You can't help but get mad at the driver, the faceless back of a head sitting several yards ahead of you causing tension all over your body. And then you remember to have compassion.... You think, maybe the driver had a hard day, or is behind schedule and doesn't want to get fired. You also remember how lucky you are to be going where ever it is your going. Suddenly your body releases and eases into the turns. Your feet get rooted and the pushes and pulls don't toss you around as much.
Now your driving your own car. It's a long distance to your destination. You start to wish you could stretch your legs, read a book, or take a nap and wake up at your destination. Control is good, but this road is tedious.
Think for a moment of the journey from point a to b as the span of your life, and your body the vehicle.
We have to use the mind like a car engine. It behooves us to look at our surroundings take in the sensory input and make decisions based on what the powerful mind can deduce. Our heart feeds a desire to go somewhere, we have the means to make it happen... or so we think.
But we also have to know the limits of that game. The person in the car still has no control over lights, traffic, accidents and road blocks. It's the person who gets attached to their own control who gets road rage. A self destructive energy that harms no one but the driver. (Well, possibly others if it gets out of control). So like the car driver, enjoy the powerful use of your own will, but know it's limits. Yoga is about practicing the flexibility of switching gears when necessary, to give up your ego and personal desires to the divinity of the universe. A practice we call ishvara pranidad.
So how do you know when to drive hard with your will, or take a breath and evoke trust and release. The answer according to yoga, is svadyaya, the practice of self study. As yogis we are utilizing the tools of monks and sages to contend with a life that's not at all monk like. We are living a life where we still entertain desires and attachment. We can't just completely detach and let go, lest we lose our dreams, goals and passions.
I am a passionate, creative person. Even as a child, my mother describes me as having been"willful." I couldn't be rushed, I had to do things myself and I always had a vision. To me, this is the"stuff" of life! But left unchecked it's also the source of stress and anxiety stemming from over attachment to the results.
This over attachment is what caused the road rage like, self destructive force, to collapse my dance career before it ever began. I didn't have the tools to trust keep flowing, when faced with road blocks. I didn't have the perspective that faith fills in the gaps where the will has no power. I couldn't stand that other people's judgement dictated my destiny. The lack of control destroyed me. I had to leave, I was in so much pain. As the buddah said, the attachment was the source of my suffering.
It wasn't until I find yoga that I learned to ride the bull if my own creative life force. I learned mobility between manifesting passionate intention, and letting go in moments when I had no control. I learned when to push myself forward and when to let the winds of nature fill my sails to move me forward. This playful bounce between tapas (devoted fire) and ishvara pranidad is the key to a fully lived life, following your hearts desire, but not suffering under the weight of its potential attachment. The only way to know which of these to evoke at any given moment is through the practice of svadyaya, self study.
So keep the fire, but when suffering comes, breath, look inside and ask: are you doing this for yourself? For your ego? Or are you in service to the world? A higher force of nature will either carry you over the wide river, or show you that turning a corner to walk beside it brings you everything you didn't know you desired.
Embedded within your own will is an atunement with a higher flow. Joining that higher flow brings more riches than your small self could have imagined.
Despite leaving my first dream behind, I never list the intention to have a fulfilling career. An attachment of sorts, but I had to completely let go of what I "thought" that should be. Now I have a career in yoga where I not only get to use my body for self expression, I get too touch people's lives in a powerful way that uses not just my body, but my mind as well. In this profession I get too constantly learn, I get too use my voice both spoken and written. What seemed like a dead end turned into a better use of my talents than I could have myself imagined.
This decade long lesson is one I try to use now too shorten suffering time. When the passions of the heart reach an impassable block, I'm automatically triggered to breath, let go, and remember joy for what I have. These are the moments the universe has a better idea for me than my own. This is when I remember I'm part of a bigger picture and not the sole driver of this vehicle.
So whose driving your motion today? Your heart and soul, ego and will, emotions and reactions, or the divine highest spirit itself? All are licensed drivers but none should have sole control over you.
The ultimate driver is the omnipresent guide you connect with through a meditative practice. The one who switches seamlessly between the forces of the body mind and soul. This all knowing nature banks the curves, taps into the current, and flows with life in all its grand momentum.