Wednesday, June 24

Reflections on Gratitude - What's the Point?

Like all my posts last week in France, this one is overdue.  It should have been written as a reflection of what Gratitude practice was throwing up at Day 300 and I know you are probably expecting part 2 of Relationships but I've decided to write that for day 315.  I want to write about friendship rather than lovers and I believe that will coincide with the memorial service for my friend Steve.  I can't attend but I'd like to honour him by reflecting on friendship on that day.

Something else has screamed its way onto the page as a result of doing this practice, instead.

I started counting days just to keep track but then the days became a goal unto themselves.  And then, as that created resistance, I stopped setting goals.  Yes, you know I am going to make it to 365 days.  That is a given.

In fact, I have decided to mark 365 days because that would give me legitimacy.  You might ask how legitimacy fits in with a spiritual or happiness practice.  Well, it doesn't.  It fits in to my writing a book about this experience.  Having put in a whole year of the practice, I think it would give me at least some authority to speak about it - setting aside the fact that I am a yoga teacher and Interfaith Minister.

You may wonder what happens at 365 days.  I'm not entirely sure but I have made some decisions about it.  And we will get there on the page, when we get there.  But, trying to plan ahead for my bigger vision has given the practice a little bit of a drive for product rather than being 100% about process.  I don't know if you've noticed.  I certainly know that some days I think - I need to set up my website and write my book proposal...but I spend so much time writing these am I ever going to get this done when I return to working full time?  "I need to get this done!" I panic.

And, I have become increasingly frustrated.  I know that this process has transformed my life and I want to get the word out in a way that encourages others to work with it to improve their own lives.  And yet some days I feel I am sitting here writing only for myself and nobody is reading it.

As a yoga teacher, my class was very popular.  I taught a challenging class but I was also very soothing.  I tried not to be what so many people become in the spiritual community - a bit of a poser - and so I tried to follow the example of my best yoga teachers and bring my personality (as well as my soothing voice) into the yoga classroom.  I loved the look on folks faces when I'd have them in downward dog and I would ask them to raise their left leg, then raise their right leg....then raise both legs....and.....levitate (cue startled faces)

I liked to make my class laugh.  Yoga postures are not the serious business of yoga...they are the things we do to calm the body so that we may sit comfortably to breathe and calm the breath so that we may calm the mind....its really about relaxing.  I relax with humour, at least at the start of settling in.  And so, I tried never to take it too seriously until it was time for deep relaxation and meditation.  That was the whole point of the 90 minute class.  And that was sacred.

I never really had much of an ego about teaching the classes.  People came for the teachings of the Guru.  I was just the current teacher who was there to light a candle on the path.

I don't know how many of you are out there reading this.  I only know that only one of you comments occasionally.  As a writer, we write to be read.  As a spiritual seeker, we practice to lose the ego and find the Divine.  The two can be at odds.  I am suffering from that conflict now.

Some days I think - what's the point of spending all this time writing every day?  What's the point of charting my challenges every 15 days in these reflections?  What's the point of writing at all when nobody shows up to read it?

What's the point??

This week, someone I follow who has over a million followers shared someone's blog on his Facebook page.  At last count, it got over 2000 likes.  My ego wants to share what I've experienced and hopes that it could start a social movement of GJOS.   I am convinced I have something inspiring to share.  I was convinced that sharing this, that writing the book around this GJOS experience was my call to Ministry.   But to have a ministry requires people to whom we minister.  And yet, it isn't happening.  At least, not yet.  Or, at least, not that I know.  There could be hundreds or thousands of lurkers out there.  But it feels like I have one reader. 

So, 2000 likes would go quite a way towards creating that ball of tar to which more and more followers will stick as the ball keeps rolling.

I don't begrudge the blog author who got the promotion on his timeline for the boost to her readership.   I am happy for her that she got some exposure.   I did, however, feel disheartened.  Why can't I get followers?  Why doesn't anyone seem to want to read this stuff?  Why has someone I have supported and promoted, who seems to share my same goal of the promotion of spiritually based happiness, not reciprocated?

I doubted myself.  I doubted my calling.  I doubted my writing.  I doubted my ability to be a spiritual leader/teacher/minister.  I doubted my worthiness.  I wanted to smash my guitar, slash my paintings and throw my toys out of the pram.  The problem is, I am not a musician or a painter and I have no toys.  I spiralled into frustration and despair. 

I wanted to quit.

And that is how Ego gets you to give up the practice.

Oh no, I hadn't created the conditions for disappointment by letting the mind create attachments and much...not much at all....

I am grateful for a couple of friends who listened to me moan out my frustration and when it was spent, I went right back to the beginning the next morning.  I feel like I am Bill Murray in that wonderful movie, Groundhog Day.  One day, I won't wake up to Sonny and Cher again.  One day, Ego will just give up the battle.

We are a long way from that...don't worry ;)

The results of our yoga practice are never to be considered when we practice in my yogic tradition.  The aim is not a perfect pose but to set the conditions of body, breath and mind to be of experience the Divine. We do the practice for the sake of practice and we are in the hands of God's Grace for the results. 

We show up, we act and we surrender - and that is the definition of karma yoga, selfless service.

And, so,  I got clear - I am writing these posts because it is my spiritual path.  Being grateful, recognizing joy, experiencing and recognizing our oneness and serving others is, in my opinion - God in Action - in the real world.  I became a minister to dedicate my life to God, or  the Divine Quantum, or that thing that holds the Universe together.  Whatever you call it, it is that something that is bigger than ourselves.  And perhaps my ministry is not in leading others to find what I have found.  Perhaps my ministry is simply doing the work....and being a part of manifesting God in Action....every day....

Whether you ever read this blog and if you do, whether it inspires you  or you choose to follow this path for your own life...well...that is Your contract with the Divine Quantum and none of my business.  No number of days of practice and no sense of legitimacy has any impact on whether this practice will be right for you.  Its the path for me and that is all that is my business. My business is just to do the work during the day and to show up here to write about it every day to reflect upon it, to experience the Divine in Action and to place a little candle of light in the world along my way. 

And THAT is the point of this practice.

See you at day 315.


Photo: Art by Marc Chagall, taken at Chagall National Museum in Nice.

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