It was suggested to me that I think about how I live my ethics; is my practice “hot, medium or cool”. My first internal response to this was – I am rigorous about my attention to my ethics. I am a practicing member of my recovery fellowship, AA, and I am a practicing yogi. I work the steps, and practice the principles in “all of my affairs”. I have a daily spiritual practice of listening to my inner stillness and honoring the 8 limbs of Raja Yoga. On more reflection I realized why it is called a PRACTICE (and not a perfection). Some days may approach is lukewarm if not totally “cool”. I sit in stillness only to make note of all my thoughts of things to do. The stillness is merely organized inactivity in preparation for wild activity. There are days my personal yoga practice is so perfunctory as to be merely extended stretching while putting on my socks and pulling on my sweater. I may stop at a sink or wall to extend my back and experience the tightness in my hamstrings or calves, push my palm against the hallway wall and linger for thirty seconds to open my tight shoulders but that is it. It is the practice of yoga while I am on my way to doing something else. Certainly not a mindful mat practice. My engagement with my ethics is another part of the journey. First, what are they? I embrace the Yamas and the Niyamas (and the corollary of some of them in avoiding the 7 Deadly Sins) and they do form the basis of my ethical behavior. That includes the practices of forgiveness and compassion – so critical for me to be able to express and act in these ethical manners. When do I fall short? I fall short when I am feeling less about myself. I fall short when I feel I need something that with my own current skill or resource level, I am unable to earn on my own. This can apply to the material; but more often now it occurs when I feel I need or want something non-material. This can be ability on the mat, this can be artistic and technical skills in the pottery studio, this can be wisdom to navigate difficult situations in life. When I am feeling badly about myself I have more opportunity to “regret the past”, I have more need to control the outcomes of situations, I am unwise in my speech and attitude and am more likely to cause harm. When I am angry at myself I am much more likely to find occasion to be angry at others. This may sound simplistic – but is IS all about me! It is my “stinkin thinkin” that gets me into difficulties. Compassion with myself begets compassion with others, acceptance of myself as I am “leaks out” to manifest in acceptance of people, places and things as they are. And this causes a wave; a smile given is a smile returned. Listening quietly with an open heart allows the speaker to be in there moment unfettered to expectations. Employing Tapas, discipline, to acquire the skills I need to be better at what I do will remove the need to yearn for others’ abilities. When it comes to things – examine why I need then, what it is I really “want” and then, work and save for it if that thing is necessary. So how am I with my ethics? Better in this moment, better when I consider them in what I think, say and do. Will I ever think I am “hot” or 80 to 100% attentive? I don’t know. I am concerned that when I feel “hot” I am really “cool”. Today, however, I am going to reinvigorate my attention to this question; I will remind myself again and again (I have an over active “forget-er”) to come back to the question and then, to come back to compassion.
Kyczy Hawk E-RYT200 is the author of “Yoga and the Twelve Step Path”, a leader of Y12SR classes, and the creator of SOAR(tm) (Success Over Addiction and Relapse) a teacher certification training she holds with her good friend Kent Bond E-RYT500. Find out more about her, her classes and the training at www.yogarecovery.com