There are always times in your life when you are overcome with doubt. Doubt about your place in the world, or your ability to cope. Doubt about the future of mankind, or the goodness of those around you. Doubt about the meaning of it all, or your ability to write a meaningful blog. This doubt can be a huge impediment to your yoga practice as well as to your life. Why practice? Am I doing the right practice? Why is my practice such a struggle? These and many other questions can lead one to become disheartened and just quit.
It seems to me that at times like this, faith becomes an important tool. I am not talking about “Faith” in the religious sense but the ordinary faith that we all have that gets us through every day. The faith we have in the fact that the earth will spin and the sun will come up every morning. The faith we have that when we put our foot down it will land on something solid. We all have experienced the shake up we get when we put our foot down and the floor is further away than we expected and yet we all keep walking.
My faith in the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga method was cemented on my first trip to Mysore to study with Guruji. There is no mike and gurujidoubt that for him, this is a spiritual practice. A way to find God. But he gave me a very simple message, “practice, practice, practice, and all is coming”. He showed me a way to practice and said that if you practice continuously, with skill and patience, then the result is inevitable, just as it is inevitable that night follows day. He also told me not to believe anything that I did not experience for myself. He got me to understand that the answer to my doubts, to the big questions, were to be found inside myself through my practice. Not from books or from attending lectures on the subject of yoga or from talking about yoga, but from practice.
It is this faith in the process that keeps me coming back to the practice every morning. The practice has challenged me in all sorts of ways, but it has never failed me. The practice still moves me in the direction of Yoga. It continues to answer my questions at the same time as it asks questions of me. My faith in the practice is the same faith I have that if I plant a seed in fertile soil, and tend it carefully, then a plant will grow. Stop tending the soil and weeds soon grow and take over. Stop practicing and doubts and old habits soon come back and will take over if you let them.
Such a simple message. Just keep practicing. It works and yet so many people struggle with it. They want something more, some sort of magic key that will unlock Samadhi for them. They can’t see what is right in front of them, which is that the practice is the key. You only need to have a little faith and keep practicing.