The next thing I learned:

By on Feb 13, 2013 in The Unruly Ascetic

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The window is not fixed.

It is not so simple as figuring out what suits and what doesn’t and sticking with it.

For a time, I let an outside party convince me that the only way to be a genuine yogi was to live at the austerity end of the scale. I found that by pushing my little dot toward the end of discipline, my window followed.  Sometimes I was living outside my window and it was very uncomfortable, but sometimes I would manage to keep my little dot right on the edge of my window of productive behavior and I would feel immense growth happening.  and then I’d step out of the window toward unproductive austerity and I’d become an asshole and my Dad would tell me I’d lost my sense of humor (side note, I think maybe parents are the only ones who have potential to see our windows and our positioning clearly).
Once I regained my senses (and independence) I started to investigate the position of my window.  I knew the things that had been wonderfully challenging and growth provoking and I began to see the things that might have been needlessly discarded or avoided.  My window began to settle into a more normal point on the scale. Maybe not he middle, but not at the crazy far end.  I became more comfortable with my life, regained my awareness of who I am, regrew lost confidence and let go of unnecessary worries.

and I carried on living my life.

I met new people. I went to knew places.  I tried new things.
And damnit if my window didn’t move again. It slid out from under me. 
Once I saw it, I realized that its never as easy as settling into a pattern that doesn’t change, setting standards and expectations that can be maintained year after year. Normal(ish) people have jobs, families, and goals that require them to face the inevitable change as it comes, but gradually. As a student of ashtanga yoga (in Myosre) before anything else, I have different struggles to learn from.

This system and lifestyle teaches you lessons in fits and starts, there’s nothing gradual about it.

So it took me a little while to see that I can’t just settle into a pattern for living and wait for gradual change.  My window swings dramatically with every move and every change in priorities, be it practicing in the shala, saving money, teaching, or giving my time to the people I love when they need it.  It’s not possible to find a steady balance that can be maintained year in and year out.  If we insist of maintaining the position of our dot on the scale, we’ll find ourselves unproductively outside out window.  The challenge of this lifestyle, the reason it’s unattractive to so many, is the lack of constants.  The window swings and the constant of “home” or family and friends, or work, or even food, changes and we have to be flexible enough (and brave enough) to shift with it.
As always, there is one thing that doesn’t change with all the other shifts of life. Sometimes it feels so hard to hold on to, but we know its worth it.  Practice.  
My practice is with me every step, every shift and movement.  and I am finding that as long as I hold onto my practice, it will inevitably pull me toward the center of my window of personal growth experience.  It will reign me in from moving toward chaos; it will help me see what austerities don’t serve me.  

As always, my practice is there, keeping my steady in the center of my own shifting world.

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