On my way to teach this morning, I listened to someone on the radio discussing the opposite of poverty. He said that initially we think that the opposite of poverty is wealth, but that wealth doesn’t at all imply that one doesn’t feel impoverished in some way. The opposite of poverty, said this man, is “enough,” knowing that there is and that one has and is enough.
As I taught, then, my morning classes I thought of this idea in relation to a yoga practice. I thought of how often we apply judgments tags to what we do (on and off the mat, of course): good / bad, flexible / inflexible, balanced / imbalanced. Applying these tags to what we do, keeps us in a state of impoverishment, a state that never allows us to come to the place of “enough.”
I think of students saying “I can’t do…” enter any number of statements here: twists, inversions, arm balances. I think of the many times I have gotten stuck in this thought process, saying, “I just can’t get this pose.” And so here we go, taking our mindset of judgment and applying it to our practice. Our practice becomes either good or bad, beautiful or, what? ugly? When our yoga practice exists in the pejorative, we learn to live our lives this way. It keeps us in a state of wanting and never allows us to accept, to gain freedom from the kind of want that depletes us, angers, causes jealousy and ill-will.
I am not saying that we give up working toward new goals. Just the opposite. Life is richly lived when we continue to challenge ourselves, resetting our bar. However, what if just for your next practice you intend to drop the labels of good or bad, flexible or inflexible, and just accept that what you achieve today is enough. You didn’t push up into wheel? But what a magnificent feeling bridge that was! Legs didn’t come up in headstand? Ah, but it was great to feel the rush of blood from placing head to ground! Enough. Enough of judgment and of impoverishment. Just enough.
The standard of success in life isn’t the things. It isn’t the money or the stuff — it is absolutely the amount of joy you feel. Abraham-Hicks