“Your proper concern is alone the action of duty, not the fruits of the action. Cast then away all desire and fear for the fruits, and perform your duty.” ~ The Bhagavad Gita
I have a tendency to grumble, to get cynical, to be in anxiety and fear and tell myself the story that I’ve taken many wrong turns in life and that is why my work does not seem to bear fruit in the way I would like it too.
And yet, I know with certainty that my duty, my dharma, includes the following: to be kind and loving; to trust in God; to nurture Cole; to share my experience, strength and hope with others; to merge yoga and Benedict; to write; and to use my writing voice as a platform for engagement with the ills and goodness of the world through exploring relationship in fiction and non-fiction.
Like so many of us, I succumb to the false notion that the fruit of action, professional action in particular, is financial security. Life requires currency. Bills need to be paid. I fear that if this currency doesn’t evolve as a result of my work in the world I am somehow missing the mark, making a huge error in judgement.
Perhaps my error is not in dedicating my hours to the work I feel so called to do, but in defining the fruit of that work. In seeking out, as one dear student calls them, “plastic fruits.”
Art takes on a life of its own. The authors of the books I read have no inkling of how deeply they touch, inspire, comfort, enrich, and challenge my life. My teachers cannot know that the words they choose speak directly to what I need to hear in order to live in faith for another hour, another day.
This goes for all of us.
How many times have you said a prayer, asked for some celebration or guidance, and found it arrive in the smallest, most daily of places?
A central theme in The Bhagavad Gita is that it is better to do your own dharma poorly than to do someone else’s well.
Ponder that for a moment. Place it in the lens of your asana practice.
What happens when you successfully make your pose look like someone else’s in the room? There’s a disconnect, right? A risk of injury. A pulled muscle. A tweaky shoulder. Perhaps a little voice inside telling you that your practice wasn’t good enough. That you aren’t good enough.
Now, what happens when you get honest with your pose? When you allow your asana to be messy. When it feels “unsuccessful.” Perhaps that little voice says, “Well, it wasn’t great, but I tried. I did what I could.” How does your heart feel when given that message? There’s a little lift, right? A sense of integrity that your practice was your practice.
Time on the mat is a profound training ground for life off the mat. On the mat we get the opportunity to practice attitude and action. To navigate trauma and find healing. To bolster our confidence. To stoke the fires of passion, empathy, and loving kindness. To trust. To do the work and watch the sustaining fruits unfold.
As I welcome my anxiety and to the table of my experience, I’m feeding myself with this practice. With the internal yoga of attitude, with paying attention, with opening to see and enjoy the fruits I’m given the opportunity to see. With enjoying the mystery of the fruits I will never see.
I’ll try anyway.
And be bolstered by these final words from the eternally inspiring Christine Valters Paintner.
Autumn . . . is a season of paradox that invites us to consider what we are called to release and surrender, and at the same time it invites us to gather in the harvest, to name and celebrate the fruits of the seeds we planted months ago. In holding these two in tension we are reminded that in our letting go we also find abundance.
Let’s do this together, shall we?