Feb 6, 2013

Create a pre-practice ritual aka jedi mind tricks by Elise Espat

Eventually it is possible that it won't matter. You'll wake up without any kind of encouragement and get on with it with ease and grace.  Perhaps you're even able to right now decide to turn the switch for complete and absolute engagement to the "on" position.  If so, now is the time to set it to "on" and leave it there.
As the senses contact the object of the senses, feelings of heat and cold, pain and pleasure occur, Arjuna.  These sensations come and go; they're impermanent.  Patiently endure them, great Prince.  -2.14 Bhagavad Gita, Swami Satchidananda
The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.  Then the Seer [Self] abides in His own nature.  At other times [the Self appears to] assume the forms of mental modifications. There are five kinds of mental modifications which are either painful or painless... -1.2-5 Yoga Sutras, Swami Satchidananda
Yes, with practice (which implies time, right?... a repeated effort?) all is coming.  But first, one has to actually practice.  Talking about it, having special clothes, reading interesting books, memorizing facts, a bit of previous experience, etc., don't count.
Success comes to him who is engaged in the practice. How can one get success without practice; for by merely reading books on Yoga, one can never get success.

Success cannot be attained by adopting a particular dress (Veṣa). It cannot be gained by telling tales. Practice alone is the means to success. This is true, there is no doubt.-2.67-68 Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Pancham Sinh
As someone who has tried every sort of scenario possible to avoid the inevitable early morning practice, I can honestly say that a daily morning Mysore practice is simply the most practical, peaceful, and healing situation I have ever experienced.  It just works. 

That said, it was not easy for me to establish...  Well, actually, it was really easy and simple.  Or at least it could have been had I been even slightly willing to give it a real chance.  For me, many things had to shift.  Each day I had to look at how I was investing all aspects of myself.  It was painful.  I had to make big and what felt like big choices and sacrifices in order to make it happen.

For a long time it was uncertain.  Each day had a question mark.  I had to write down that I would do it so that I could check it off my list.  I needed some sort of validation that I was making an effort.  This was also around the time when I didn't think it was important to have a morning ritual.

Slowly I started to notice glimpses of light shining through the darkness.  I moved toward it.  A regular morning routine started to form.  This regularity began to saturate everything else.

I've realized that it can be very helpful to do the exact same thing every single day.  That when things are simple we have lots of room for pleasant.

How to create a pre-practice ritual:

Close your eyes and spend some time daydreaming.
Imagine your teacher, another practitioner, someone you respect that is further along the path.  How do they wake up?  What do they do?  What is the environment like?  What sensations or associations does it bring?

Close your eyes and spend some more time daydreaming.
Imagine a person you love, respect, or care for deeply.  If you were creating a ritual and environment for them, how would you do it?

Insert yourself into the scenarios.
How does that feel?

Put it all together in a practical way.
Let's say you imagined waking up from a baby deer nuzzling your wittle nose.  Birds lifting you to your feet.  Cartoon flowers exploding from the floor with glitter shooting through the air.  You get the point.

You get on the internet and get yourself a deer poster.  You get an alarm clock that has nature sound options.  You get a flower bedspread and a glittery practice top.

Set out your clothes the night before.

Set up coffee/tea the night before.

An exceptional music playlist can be very helpful.

Basically, arrange everything the night before so that all you have to do is get out of bed and have the willpower to not turn around and get back in it.  Be strong!

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