Earlier this year we introduced the yogic concept of “Tapas”, one of the Niyamas, the second limb of the 8-fold path. One aspect of tapas, usually translated as self-discipline, that is often over-looked, is perseverance. Perseverance, a fleeting quality in a world that seems driven by the need for instant gratification and instant results. Who has time now-a-days to wink a taxi down the street, when the next UBER is only a few minutes away? Who wants to spend time cooking a lovely dinner after a long busy day when a delivery service does it for you? Who has time to wait for a favorite movie to come on TV, when you can get it “on-demand” on Netflix, and Co? Who wants to invest time in chatting someone up at a coffee-shop, if the next date is only a swipe away?
Back in the day, meaning about 40 years ago, people took boat trips sometimes lasting several weeks, when they wanted to travel from one continent to the other. Today, we can cross oceans in often less than 10 hours and we still might complain about the duration of the flight. Of course, technological innovations that have made all these things possible for us have many advantages. At the same time, however, many of us tend to feel a constant sense of urgency, impatience, and dissatisfaction. If something does not work out the way we want it right away, we move on to the next thing. This can be anything from picking up a new hobby (e.g. Yoga), to starting a training course, a job, or a relationship.
Why do we need to have everything instantaneously? When we look to nature, we see that everything has its own unique cycle of growth, life, and decay. The moon cycle takes exactly 28 days, it takes 10 (lunar) months for a human being to develop in the uterus, and every seed has its own time in which it grows into a plant. They say that “Rome was not built in a day” – and so is nothing if it is to have depth, dimension, and durability. Every process has its own timeline, which is oftentimes outside of our control, and all we can do is stay aware, engaged and tend to it.
What is true in nature also holds true for our Yoga practice and for our lives. Progress on the yoga mat comes with time, genuine relationships between people take time to deepen and evolve, a business needs time to establish itself, and knowledge and wisdom also come with experience acquired over time. When we invest time in something, it means that we are truly engaged in it, we are present with it, and we give it attention and care for it. Through this, we gain a deeper understanding of whatever it is, that is in front of us. We may notice connections to other things in our lives, we may see patterns, we develop a unique relationship with it, and most importantly we integrate the experiences we are having as a result of it into our being. Perseverance then creates authenticity, genuineness, and a solid foundation for whatever we are building.
When we persevere, we also develop strength and build character. Faced with difficult situations that may arise at any point in our lives, in any relationship, job, or project, it often seems easier to run. We may want to turn the other way when presented with an obstacle, thinking that something else would be easier. Yet, when we walk through difficult situations, we may be required to ask for help, to expand our resources, to revise the way we were thinking about something, or to amend our own behaviors. In any case, going through something will change us and again leave us with a new, and deeper understanding, and an experience we could not have had, had we not persevered.
And is not the feeling of having overcome a challenging situation the “real” gratification? I don’t know about you, but the gratitude I feel, when I think about the many things in my life that are a result of me having preserved with them, is nothing compared to the temporarily excitement of instant gratification or an immediate result.
Also, the birthday of Bali Yoga Wien this month, is another example of perseverance. Those of you, who have been with us from the beginning, will have seen it in its many different stages. You will have witnessed the coming and goings of teachers, the expanding of our classes, the changes to the physical space, and the wonderful growth of our community. Bali Yoga Wien is a true “heart-project” and of course, like everything else, it comes with its unique challenges and obstacles. Yet, by overcoming them, they have become part of our experience and our uniqueness. Yoga, unity, community, connection, is what we wish to create, and it is the very thing that has allowed us to preserver so far.
Here is to many more birthdays to come! Namaste!
by Carina Hilmar