The Dance of the Familiar and the FreshSep 20, 2023
In our recent discussion about yoga and studentship, Buddhist teacher Frank Jude Boccio and I hit on a crucial but often overlooked aspect of the enduring nature of the practice.
On the one hand, the essence of yoga remains constant. The roadmap for our practice doesn’t change: turning inward to connect the mind with the body, creating space for the breath within the body, and using the breath to still the mind.
Likewise, we understand that the benefits of yoga emerge from consistency – from repetitive, dedicated engagement with the practice over time, known as abhyasa in the tradition.
However, even though much of our practice remains consistent, we also recognize that repeatedly doing the same things can become monotonous and uninspiring, not only for the mind but also for the body. The mind thrives on novelty to spark fresh insights and maintain focus and interest.
Similarly, the body benefits from diverse movements that trigger new responses. Variety and exploration expand our experience of asana, taking us deeper into our practice.
Additionally, our spirit benefits from new sources of inspiration that invigorate our practice and sustain the enthusiasm and energy required for continued engagement.
It’s a fascinating paradox familiar to all long-term practitioners: It’s valuable to explore new pathways that ultimately lead us to the same familiar destination - the quietude of our own inner being. Approaching familiar teachings and practices from novel and creative angles enriches our experience and helps us to embody them at a deeper level.
The landscape of our inner being is simultaneously familiar and perpetually new. Perhaps this is why fresh perspectives have the uncanny ability to rekindle our connection to it and help us remember what we already know.