What Motivates Your Practice?
Having been connected with a spiritual community for the last 12 years, I have heard the best intending people express their wish to become enlightened in this lifetime. I once asked an acquaintance when she said that she was going for it, meaning, enlightenment, what she would do when she actually got there… For what purpose was she seeking enlightenment? She paused and said that she hadn’t considered it.
I don’t claim to have an answer, but I’m offering that it’s an important question to examine while still in the human experience.
What motivates me now, will shape the outcome of my pursuit.
If my motivation is a heartfelt desire to know God, then I believe Divine knowledge will be of the experience. If it’s to be of great service, then I believe the outcome will manifest this way. But if motivated by power or selfishness, I don’t think I or the planet will benefit much, and I’m proposing that our spiritual practices: yoga, pranayama, meditation, japa, and puja, to name some,
are to move us toward being more conscious beings on the planet–enlightenment or not.
In the Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses, Parvati, Shiva’s consort, is motivated by LOVE verses AMBITION. The story goes that she had a huge crush on Shiva and was trying to get his attention. Shiva was deep in meditation in the forest, and even though Parvati brought him food, drink, bathed his feet and what not, he never acknowledged her or even stirred from his meditation.
Having tried everything that she knew to win Shiva’s love, she retreated in frustration. Although her love for Shiva had not changed, she changed her motivation, and instead of trying to win Shiva’s love, she began meditating on her love for God. So beautiful, powerful and dedicated was Parvati in her mediation, that Shiva stirred from his own and fell in love with her.
But what motivates our practice?
Ambition? Well, yes, many students want to progress and many want to keep working toward a bigger or more difficult pose.
Maintenance is another motivator… if I go to yoga tonight, I know that my back won’t hurt tomorrow. Also in the maintenance category; we go to return to our center and to take refuge from a complex world.
Recently, connection is what motivates me in my yoga practice. I teach and go to class to connect with my friends, my students and those who want to feel good through the vehicle of the body in practice. We all feel better after class, and life more rich as a result. I like sharing this kind of space with my friends.
A student shared that once examined, her motivation in her practice was strictly ambition. She went five and six times a week to class, turning down invitations for socializing until she realized that she had a really strong yoga practice, but was feeling very lonely. Recognizing this, she sought more balance and now goes out with her friends and goes to yoga class.
She said she is still advancing in her practice but loving her life more.
I think it’s an important question to ask: What motivates our practice?
What motivates us now will likely be of the experience and outcome of our pursuit.
Make yours LOVE.