After yesterday’s yoga practice, we continued our learning of the yoga sutras with 10 minutes. The conversation was about taming the monkey in your head (you know, that nasty little monkey who never lets you have peace and quiet in your head…) and identifying and getting back to your true self. We spend so much of our lives putting characteristics or identity on top of who we really are, e.g. I went to school at BYU, I do digital strategy for work, I run, I do yoga, I am from Utah. And after we spend so much time establishing that is who we are, we spend more time defending it, trying to live up to it. But the sutras teach that if you take all that way – if I stopped running, if I’d gone to school somewhere else – it wouldn’t change who my true, inner self is. Make sense?
Elliott, our instructor, gave the analogy of clothes. They are something you put on your body but even without them, your body doesn’t change. The things you label yourself with and the things you do with your life don’t change who you really are. They can shape the course of your life and daily routines, but they don’t change the core of your being. So the goal with yoga is to find that core. And a lot of that has to do with quieting the monkey in your head who tells you that you have to be a certain way.
There have been a number of things in my life that I was trying to be and over the past few years I’ve unravelled many of them. I had been raised a certain way, I was in a certain relationship, I had a certain job and I spent so much time trying to live up to those things because that’s what I needed to be. But I wasn’t happy. And when I stripped all of that way, it was extremely painful and hard and well, devastating. But once I got through it, I have felt more like myself than I have in years. And I think that’s what the sutras we discussed are really about – finding yourself and honoring it, even when there is pain along the way.
It’s easy to look back on situations and identify how you’ve grown after the fact, but I think the bigger challenge is to proactively grow. And hopefully, by working to “quiet the monkey mind” I’ll be able to do that more.