We had a great day at the Immersion yesterday. We spent the first part of class talking about the 25 tattvas of the Relative World, the gunas, optimal balance, the center, the notion of dharma and contemplating "What is Your Highest Vision?" One of the reasons we talk so much about having a High Vision in Anusara Yoga is that the idea of balance and optimal has to exist in relationship to something other than just personal opinion, preference and habit. That is the whole thing about yoga. It is aimed well beyond those concepts and is about taking us to what is highest and deepest within us.
Now, do not get me wrong- I think as healthy, psychologically sound human beings we should know what we like, do not like and have opinions, preferences and so forth and be able to express them in a mature and responsible way. I really do. But yoga has always been about going beyond that level of experience into something else.
We were laughing a bit about that as we talked abut gunas and doshas because many times a state of balance does not feel "normal" and therefore we may not immediately recognize it as desirable. And many times we crave and prefer those things that actually take us further away frm balance, not closer! For instance, one of Manorama's teachings was that "we are all more than a little addicted to our drama." So, if we are addicted to a state of high drama and we let go of that, the more optimal state may seem a bit boring for a while.
If in asana, we are used to a very rajasic (fiery) practice full of flow, standing postures and back bends, we might find that a forward bend practice feels wrong but not because it actually is wrong for us but because it is not what we are used to or what we have come to prefer. And vice versa- those used to a slower practice will often internally rebel when faced with a fiery practice.
So what is optimal is best considered in light of the deeper inquiry of our true purpose and our heart's vision rather than what we like best, what we feel like today and what we are used to. We have to know which part of us are we consulting for the information that will guide our decisions. If we do not spend time learning to listen to the higher and deeper voices inside us then we will always pick things from a more superficial place because, let's face it, it is easier.
Like with drama-addiction, for instance. How much easier is it to go down that road of "he said, and then I said and then can you believe this happened...." Instead of unplugging from all of that and looking squarely at the situation, our part in it and choosing a response that is sane, tempered and measured? And so on. Pick any domain- usually the thing that comes easily is the habitual response, not the optimal one.
Although here is the cool thing- we can and do mature and change and our preferences can really line up with our heart's longing, with the very best part of us. We can learn to recognize and prefer the relaxed yet keen awareness of balance over and above the more charged and "exciting" state of stress. We can learn to prefer being accountable over and above blaming even though it is ever-so-humbling at times to really own up to our part in things. We can learn to prefer a good honest cry over and above acting out our emotions in various destructive ways. And so on.
Paul Mueller-Ortega once said that "The truth of tantric practice is that you get to have anything you want. It is, after all, a path of fulfillment. The fine print, however, is that the practice will change what you want. You will come to want a life of service, a life of contemplation, a life that is subtle and deep." Our preferences cease to be a problem when they are aligned with our Highest. That is what is so cool and why we need to know what our highest is so we can recognize where they match up with our highest and when and where they are misaligned and at cross purposes.
Also this takes us out of a big "Yoga says" rule-based thing about what is yogic and what is not yogic and puts the decisions we make on a daily basis in our own hands. Our choices are not relative to some outside standard of right and wrong, of good and bad but are about aligning us with what we want for ourselves. This is the nitty gritty part of having a high vision and is a very practice way we begin answering the next questions which is "How will we get there from here?"