Belief or faith...

Belief tells me that I must do what I do because it's said to be good for me, even if it doesn't feel right. Faith opens my heart to listening more carefully. What is called for will become present to my faithful heart.

Here's what I love about yoga: it asks that we practice. And, to be effective, the practice requires our attention, our discernment, and most importantly, our faith.

Our practice evolves with us.

For example... consider how you might sometimes feel at the end of a stressful day. Maybe you're craving a bit of compassion and kindness after feeling like the world is too sharp. You feel depleted. But you committed to exercise and you don't want to miss. So you head to the gym, put on your music, and work as hard and fast as you can. By the time you get home, you're not only depleted, you're too exhausted to make dinner and your emotions are raw. You eat a whole frozen pizza and fall asleep on the couch. In the morning, your tummy turns and your neck hurts and you aren't sure what day it is.

Ugh.

Maybe you could have chosen better? Maybe you could have helped yourself in some more thoughtful ways.

But how do we know what will work?

Here's where the process of our evolving discernment comes in. This is also where we may observe the development of faith.

Consider the following:

It may be that my body requires attention. I may need to take care of sore muscles or flagging energy. For this, I might choose some asana and some breathing.

It may be that my mind is spinning and I feel anxious. For this, I might work with a mantra as I move and breathe.

It may be that I'm feeling low and my immune system is debilitated. For this, I might begin a progressive practice that increases the difficulty of asana over a week with some vitalizing breathwork.

I start from the place of observing myself and taking responsibility for my feelings-- whether they're physical or emotionally sourced. And I move to a place of confidence-- of knowing that I'm the best-placed person to attend to those feelings. At this point, I may seek the support of a guide, a friend, a professional to support my inquiries and suggest methods for healing. Whoever I choose, may I always remember (and may they agree) that the work to be done is mine.

The guide doesn't do the work; I do.

As I engage in my practices, my vigilance is on me, not the practices suggested. For example, if I'm seeking yoga too hard, I'm definitely not going to find yoga. If I believe I must run 8 miles a day no matter what, eventually, an injury will require that I rest.

This is the difference between faith and belief. Belief tells me that I must do what I do because it's said to be good for me, even if it doesn't feel right. Faith opens my heart to listening more carefully. What is called for will become present to my faithful heart.

And yours.

Like everyone else, we'll notice that old patterns sometimes creep up to kick us in the bums. When we feel that sort of discomfort, we might choose to contemplate the ways we contributed to it. We might then envision ourselves as light permeating the darkness of our ignorance. We might call for support, but the support will only remind us of our light. That is our faith.

It's a day-by-day, moment-to-moment affair and it begins anew with every breath.

Please let me know if I may be of service as you discover your clarity.

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