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Abhyasa: Balancing Effort and Surrender

Everyone has an idea they are selling about achieving optimal health, and I am convinced that for most everyone, it is more a collection of choices, rather than any one significant action that offers us vitality. While much of this is known and most all of it really is quite simple, the greatest challenge, in my experience, is really more the perseverance, or the ongoing practice. It's that integration into our life that I am hoping to help clients achieve, that step beyond just talking about it or even really understanding, but truly making part of your daily walk.

We often talk about habits requiring 21 days of committed practice to really integrate themselves into our subconscious, which I appreciate, but far too often we do get on the right track with things and then something comes along our path and knocks us a bit off kilter, so we default to factory settings. The Sanskrit word, abhyasa, which we talk about in yoga, is that perseverance in our practice. When we show up for ourselves on our mat, and we do this consistently enough, we create a deeper groove than our original factory settings so that when times are tough, it is the mat we seek refuge.

Abhyasa is about more than just our yogic practice on the mat, but also our attitude about how we approach our practice. Abhyasa is unconditional. It is the dedicated, unflinching application of what we believe in. It's surrendering completely to our practice, through good times and bad, through unexpected events and exceedingly challenging circumstances. It is simply showing up for ourselves first.

Abhyasa builds on itself, just like a ball rolling downhill picks up momentum; The more we practice, the more we want to practice, the faster we reach our destination, and the more the mat becomes our source of comfort, our safe place. For our practice to be effective, we must always be intensely present to what we are doing, and eventually, our firm and unyielding determination becomes integral to everything we do in daily life.

Constant repetition of a yogic practice, or any practice, reaches the unconscious and starts a quiet, deep transformation there. Once it becomes so deeply connected to the unconscious, meditation and any other practice becomes effortless and natural. This perseverance in practice, creates that neuropathway of familiarity, which allows us to default into healthy behaviors which support healing, and ultimately, lifelong vitality. It isn't achieved through force or will, and it isn't simply about results. Rather, it is more an innate human capacity to awaken within our practice, through our own willingness. It is an energy that builds in our life, as we use it and if we cultivate this energy in our good days, when it is easy, then it will show up for us in our hard times.

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