Commitment is a word that brings up a lot of emotions and thoughts for me. I love the idea of being committed to my well-being, in my relationships, friendships, to a daily yoga practice, to my values, etc. Some yogis approach their daily practice in a very intuitive way; show up and just see what happens. I personally love this approach, it feels like it is answering to what the body and mind needs in that particular moment by tuning into yourself. Then there are other traditions that stick to the same sequence or meditation for a certain amount of days or perhaps you stick to the same sequence for years! Personally one of the styles I practice is Kundalini Yoga and this tradition commits to 40, 90, 120, and 1000 day sadhanas. We do this to start to instil life promoting habits and to get rid of habits that no longer serve us, we build character by learning to commit and show up. This idea of doing the exact same thing every day stirs up major resistant inside me because I love variety and feel that the body needs it. BUT, I do see the value in sticking to the same practice or meditation for certain amounts of time, this is where the work happens. It is not always comfortable or fun but it does make us confront the parts of ourselves that we don't always want to face.
“One part of sadhana should stay constant long enough for you to master, or at least experience, the changes evoked by a single technique. Each kriya and mantra has its individual effects, although they all elevate you toward a cosmic consciousness. Learn to value the pricelessness of one kriya, and all others will be understood in a clearer light.” –Yogi Bhajan
How have I dealt with this seemingly contradictory way of practicing? Well, it just so ends up i`ve decided to combine the two so that I get the benefits of both!
Here are 5 ways that I set myself up to succeed to my commitments:
1 - Keep the part of your practice that remains the same short anywhere from 5 - 30 minutes. If you have a busy day you can still fit in 5 minutes! On the days where you have more time, you can make that portion longer or you can do other things that would help bring balance on that particular day.
2 - If you are just starting to incorporate commitment to your practice pick something that feels achievable, something that doesn't feel too far out of reach. This will set you up for success and the more you succeed and create the habit of showing up, the easier it gets.
3 - If at all possible, try to do your practice at the same time every day. This doesn`t always happen with me, most days I do practice in the morning but some days I do practice in the afternoon. I know that if I wait until bedtime I will not do it! I always make sure to get my practice in before 7pm.
4 - Have compassion for yourself, if you miss a day, so what! Start over and don`t be too concerned about how ''well'' you are doing whatever you`ve committed to. If you are getting down on yourself because your mind is all over the place or because your hamstrings are tight it takes away from the beneficial effects of yoga and meditation. Just show up and do your best on any given day without any judgement or need to have a particular outcome. Do it for the journey and not the end result.
5 - Know that every commitment you pick you will learn from. If you end up not finishing your specific amount of days, then that is an experience, if you achieve your commitment but didn`t enjoy it, that is an experience, if you loved every moment of it, then that is an experience. You will learn more about yourself through the process.
''Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.'' -Bhagavad Gita