What seeds are you planting?
LIFESTYLE | MINDFULNESS
By: George Coker
Spring is a season of beginnings.
Every beginning is also an ending.
Spring isn’t just the coming of new life, it’s the season of rebirth. And as it approaches, nature summons our attention to what is fruiting and blossoming. What’s been lying dormant. What came to a close.
Out in the world, what we want to grow and cultivate requires attention. If we have a garden, we prune and water and weed. The same is true internally. Often what we want to grow requires effort. What grows when we’re not present or aware often needs attention.
While we can look at so many things in this moment. I’d like to take a look at my yoga practice because it is both internal and external, and this is a yoga publication.
An admittedly ambitious 8 year old me was fixated on “reaching enlightenment,” which shaped the course of my spiritual practices for years. Yoga itself didn’t enter my life until I was 18. When it did, it was a casual hobby consisting primarily of asana. Well, until last year. The seed was planted though, and it persisted. It faltered and flourished… But through it, I found moments of grace.
While yoga can include moments of grace, that’s not what it is. And if you feel like it’s only yoga when you’re certain you’re having a “divine” moment, your tree might seem to wither in periods that feel devoid of that glow. It’s happened to me.
Years down the line though, my practice became an element of self improvement. I was determined to use yoga to change my life, which it did. I would feel myself becoming stronger physically, and emotionally. My focus grew… But I found again that when I believed that yoga was a tool for self-improvement, I couldn’t bring myself to do it moments when I was struggling.
Yoga can lead to self-improvement, but that’s not what it is. And if you feel like you can only do yoga in the moments where you’re the poster child for self-love and a healthy lifestyle, it can start to feel fake when you show up to your practice, as any number of honest, imperfect versions of yourself. Yoga is not about being perfect, but sometimes that’s the experience we’re determined to nurture.
Perhaps in the moments when you’re not growing your tree will feel withered. But it’s not dead. There are seasons for blossoms and for fruits and for losing our leaves. Trees grow and sometimes they give… Sometimes they rest.
Last year, though, I found a teacher, her name is Marie Grujicic, and during our time together, she taught me three things:
1, That my yoga practice would effectively become whatever healthy or unhealthy thing that I thought it was.
2. That I could make it about living intentionally.
3. That I could choose to use my breath to find my “intention,” whatever I chose to make it.
I chose “joy.” I find it a little embarrassing to admit, but it was a thing that I needed. We often work to master the things we need most. At first I was painfully unaware I was the one who needed it. And it was a thing that I thought would help me bring my best self to the rest of my life. And It did. Through intentionality and joy I found myself creating a series of unexpected connections. I found myself traveling Europe and making all kinds of new friends and connecting with old ones. I did a yoga teacher training. I went from hungrily searching for the most complex asana to perform, to finding the truths my practice would whisper to me when I was present. I went from comparing what I could do with what others could do, to considering what strength and peace I was personally looking for. I went from trying to make a living from yoga, to recognizing that for me, living itself can be an act of yoga.
After so many years, the metaphor has become confused. I thought joy was the fruit. I wanted to bring happiness to others. It seems, however, that joy is what waters my tree. Perhaps the fruit for me is the presence that I bring to the other aspects of my life. Perhaps the fruit is the peace that I can always seem to return to within myself. Who knows.
Regardless of how this has worked for me, something that people seem to agree on, is that each and every day, your attention will nurture some part of your reality.
So, I ask again. What seeds are you planting?
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