When I set up my yoga mat, I focus my attention on it, carefully examining its dimensions of 2' x 6'. That's all I need to concern myself with. However, when I start comparing my yoga practice to others', my performance begins to deteriorate. I notice their flaws, bad habits, and their constant fidgeting, lack of concentration, poor balance, hesitation, and struggles. I unintentionally delve into their mindset, wondering why I'm even occupying someone else's headspace. It's neither productive nor intriguing to speculate about their thoughts or actions. I joined the yoga class for my personal growth and well-being.
I step onto the yoga mat with the intention of improving my yoga practice, enhancing my physical fitness, and honing my ability to focus and relax. However, metaphorically speaking, I find myself standing on someone else's mat, struggling alongside them, and passing judgment on their abilities. What's even worse is that I allow them to step onto my mat, inviting their presence into my mind. I start to wonder what they think of me, and I find myself performing for their approval or trying to compete with them in order to validate my worth as a person. It's perplexing and counterproductive. In reality, I realize that I'm engaging in the same distractions of the mind that I encounter outside the yoga classroom. Perhaps it's a common tendency for the human mind to wander to those places, but as we develop our character over time, we learn that it's not truly beneficial to do so.
I engage in such behaviors out of anxiety and fear, driven by a desire to fit in or stand out in social settings. I judge others as a means to feel superior and avoid the effort of forming genuine connections. Sometimes, my judgments stem from my own insecurities, projecting my own issues onto others.
It's time to put an end to this mental chatter. It's like chaotic air traffic with countless planes flying over an airport, destined to collide and create utter chaos. We must recognize how we participate in this pattern and acknowledge its lack of purpose. It doesn't solve any problems; it only perpetuates negativity and hinders personal growth.
Engaging in such judgmental behavior truly leads us nowhere. There are no tangible benefits or advantages to it; it is merely an unhealthy and unproductive way of thinking. The first step to stop this pattern is to become aware of when we are doing it. The second step is to redirect our focus and thoughts back onto our own yoga mat.
Once we are centered on our own practice, it's important to let go of self-judgment and hostility. Instead, let's begin by appreciating the fact that we are alive, present, and engaged in something positive. We can even put on a fake smile during the yoga class as a way to lead by example and remind ourselves of happiness even during challenging postures.
To stay grounded, we can focus on our breath—deep inhalations and long, slow exhalations. This conscious cycle of breath allows us to fill our blood with pure oxygen, enhancing its potency. Concentrating on our breath takes our mind away from the struggle in that moment, even though the struggle still exists. By redirecting our thoughts to our breath, we can navigate through yoga postures with greater ease. Negative thinking, on the other hand, tends to hinder our ability to hold the poses effectively.
Mental discipline, like any skill, requires practice and effort. Just as I initially struggled to throw a frisbee with precision and speed, but eventually became skilled at it through practice, every activity I've engaged in throughout my life has been a journey of positive improvement.
Every day, my focus should be on this continuous growth and development. I approach life with the mindset of a newborn child, eagerly learning important skills and seeking out new experiences to enjoy, overcome, and learn from. Each challenge I face serves to build my skills and ultimately contribute to my self-mastery.
The purpose of mastering various skills is not to impress or control others, but to gain control over my own thoughts and actions. Self-mastery allows me to find relaxation and inner peace amidst the stresses of the material world. It empowers me to focus on the things I truly want to accomplish and execute them with precision and efficiency after practicing and learning.
There will be many endeavors in my lifetime that I initially struggle with and may not find interesting or enjoyable. However, I don't have to force myself to engage in those particular activities. Instead, I can choose to dedicate my discipline to areas that I believe will bring about positive results in the long run, even if they require patience and perseverance.
Where does this discipline come from? It stems from within, from my inner drive and commitment to personal growth. It is the strength to stick with the practice, even when things are challenging or unenjoyable. It is a choice I make every day to cultivate self-discipline and strive for mastery over myself.
Discipline comes from experience and practice. Over the years, I've learned that if I want a strong physical body, I have to do push-ups. There are nights when I feel tired and the cold discourages me, but I push through and commit to doing 10 push-ups. I focus on my breath, engage my core, and carry out the exercise. And somehow, that initial commitment of 10 push-ups often leads to doing more on the same day. By breaking it down into smaller steps, I find a rhythm and maintain the discipline to continue this practice for the rest of my life.
On the other hand, it is undisciplined for me to sit on a yoga mat and judge the person in front of me. It's unskillful to waste time contemplating their appearance or why they brought a telephone into the classroom. Instead, I should strive to have no animosity or judgment towards anyone in the class. If I feel unsettled or annoyed, I turn to deep breathing exercises to find peace within myself. There may be instances where someone's body odor becomes a distraction and discomforts me. In such cases, I politely inform the teacher at the end of the class, allowing them to handle the situation. If the issue persists without resolution, I have the option to seek another yoga school where I feel more comfortable. This approach is practical and precise, without creating hostility or conflict.
However, if there are no other yoga schools within a considerable distance, I will have to find another solution. Perhaps, in an attempt to make the person understand the discomfort they are causing, I might position myself closer to them and let them experience an unpleasant odor. Nevertheless, I would still practice compassion and non-harm in my actions.
Ultimately, the key is to be practical, considerate, and precise in handling such situations. It is important to prioritize our own well-being while treating others with compassion and respect.