It is easy for me to identify an abundance of misconstrued ways of thinking that ruled my childhood. Back then, my rule of the day was to maximize the most gain from the least effort. Good idea, right?
There are pragmatic applications of this. Ultimately, this was not fulfilling because I based this idea of getting the most on other people’s standards. I could be the fastest on my team. I could make an A on my test or to complete 100% of my homework. This might have worked out for me if making an A or being fast required a notable amount of effort.
However, I was born with innate skills in school and sports. Instead of using my innate skill to cultivate excellence, I used them to outsmart the system. I exerted the minimal amount of effort required to remain just ahead of the curve.
This system turned on its head when I enrolled in a top university where every student was high performing. Many of the students not only had innate skill, they also had a high amount of discipline. They had dedicated hundreds if not thousands of hours to school and sports.
I always knew there were numerous children who tried and excelled far more than myself. This kept me humble. All it took was for my soccer team to drive down the street to another private school and regularly lose.
When I arrived to college I assumed that everyone around me was superior. From the beginning I created a self-imposed limit for what I was capable of accomplishing. With a few notable exceptions, I met my lowered expectations.
There were a few rare occasions when I had no expectations at all. Instead I gave from a place of passion and a love of learning. I found these moments in school to be some of the most rewarding moments of my life. I began witnessing a heightened side of myself.
These numbered occurrences of seeing the best side of myself were enough to inspire me to change. When I graduated from school at age 22, I knew what I wanted: to seek excellence in everything I did.
As a newly practicing Yogini, I began rapidly uncovering my fallacious ways of thinking. I realized that my projections and low expectations for myself were the reason I performed just above average in high school and average in college.
I decided to raise my expectations. I also decided to update my modus operandi of putting forth the minimal effort required. I now understood that I didn’t need to be better or worse than anyone else. All I needed was to fulfill my own internal compass of success.
Because the most heightened experiences of myself were connected with passion and process, I knew I needed to create a lifestyle for myself that would allow me to develop continuously my internal landscape.
I had so many dreams for myself. The only problem was myself. I was functioning on 22 years of hardwired complacency.
“A wise person should alleviate himself from habitual malpractices gradually. Adoption of good practices should also be in a similar way… Demerits given up gradually and merits adopted in the same way become ever prevented and unshakable.” -Charaka Samhita
For many years, it was an arduous process with little progress and many upsets. My mind wanted purity but my conditioning wanted the easy path. I was shrouded in self-created obstacles. Yet I had developed an endless fascination with self development.
The easy path had been so easy before I developed some self-awareness. However, habits were slow if not seemingly impossible to change. I could de-stress through eating, intermittent showering, driving my messy car, tossing clothing on my floor and watching movies when things got tough. I watched my mind and body cycle through laziness, sloth, gluttony, insecurity and codependency year after year.
I held on. I held on because that was the only thing I knew to do.
The science of Yoga is the process of self improvement for the ultimate purpose of surrender.
What began as a devastatingly slow process began showing infinitesimal signs of improvement in the early years.
Because I continued to stick with the process, the incrementally small improvements became slightly bigger. Eventually the momentum of downward movement actually shifted to upward. And what was arduous for so many years actually became easy somewhere along the way. I had tried and failed so many times. After many episodes of failure, I was pleasantly surprised to look back and find that I had built the most precious of gems, discipline.
Now that the momentum in my life moves upward, I will never go astray from the path of discipline, devotion and surrender. I write these words to encourage anyone who feels like they are their biggest obstacle.
“Easy choices, hard life. Hard Choices, easy life.” - Jerzy Gregorek