To Attend or Not To Attend: How to Ask the Question

I admit it. When I see pictures and blogs about a wonderfully expansive yoga festival or workshop I get a little jealous and sort of persnickety. I sigh, humph, then remind myself that we all have different paths and I have chosen mine.

Back in college I read this book that essentially said we can have it all, just maybe not all at once. This is very comforting as I am the kind of person who wakes up and thinks I can clean the whole house, make phone calls, finish emails, nap, write a novel, learn a language, go climb a mountain or ford a stream and make dinner in a single day or  weekend. While all of these things can be done and I intend to do them, they are certainly not all going to happen today, or this year, or possibly even this decade. Especially since it’s already past noon and my motivation to clean is waning. (Not to mention that I don’t live near any mountains or ford-worthy streams.)

A student once said, “One day I woke up and asked, when I am on my deathbed do I want to remember that I had an immaculate house or that I practiced yoga on the last friday in June twenty years ago.” I love this because at the heart of the question my friend is determining the true goals of her life.

In a weekend workshop a few years back John addressed this discernment process.  The key, he said, to yogic decision making is to consider the four aims of life: Artha, Kama, Moksha, Dharma*. Lets take the example of deciding whether or not to attend a workshop.

Artha ~ Can I afford this? Will it place undo financial strain on myself or my family?

Kama ~ Will it give me pleasure? Will I enjoy this topic, group of people, geographic setting? Will I feel free to be my awesome creative self?

Moksha ~ Will attending this workshop help me contribute to the liberation of myself and others? Will it make me a better person?

Dharma ~ “Dharma always leads to harmony.”**  Does this line up with my respond-abilities in life right now? Can I leave home for a few days without abandoning my family, job, obligations? Will my attending bring harmony or disharmony?

Answering each of these questions with thoroughness and honesty keeps me sane, grounded and able to move away from jealousy and into appreciation for the different journeys we all take. I did not attend the Anusara-Inspired Teacher’s Gathering at Wunderlust this year. It looked like fun, I would have enjoyed it. Kama- check. But I don’t have the financial resources at this time, nor am I willing to go into debt to get there.  Also, my family goes on a vacation every year during the last week in July and I wanted to be with them. So I did. This time around family and finances took precedence over a week of rockin’ yoga in Tahoe.

It’s unlikely that I’ll attend any of John’s workshops this year, which seems a little weird for someone about to submit a certification video . But that’s the way it is. I attend regional events with other traveling teachers as well as teach and participate in my own local community. These are some of the ways that I am currently fulfilling the four aims of Artha, Kama, Moksha, Dharma. Next year I may travel more and that will be a dream, but for today, this is where I am. Today, my dharma is to be at home, and maybe clean.


* These questions don’t need to be asked in this order. Artha, Kama and Moksha all serve Dharma. For more info check out this blog from Anusara-Inspired Instructor Daniella Cotreau

**Another piece of wisdom from John Friend

2 Comments on “To Attend or Not To Attend: How to Ask the Question

  1. I just discovered your blog thanks to the Anusara FB page. I am so happy to find a yoga blog written by some one who has a family! I am householder too and before my first was born I was just getting active in the yoga community where I was living. It’s so much harder now that I have kids. But this is just for now, for this season, for this time. I will get back to a place where I can go on retreats. But not now. I can do it all, just not all at once. This is my path. I look forward to exploring your blog!

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