मृदुमध्याधिमात्रत्वात् ततोऽपि विशेषः॥२२॥
We are all different. There are differences in how much effort, enthusiasm or faith we have in life. These could be mild (mrdu), average (madhya) or intense (adhimatratvat).
PRACTICAL LIVING The previous sutra talked about the importance of having enthusiasm and intensity towards the things we do in life (see Sutra I.21). This sutra mentions the fact that since we are all different, our levels of enthusiasm, intensity and faith are different. Moreover, within one individual’s lifetime, these levels change. As we focus on one area of our life, wanting to change and cultivate more positive behaviors and habits, that confidence grows. The more it grows, the more enthusiastic we are and the more effort we put into what we are doing. Consequently, the results we are aiming for tend to come faster.
As a teenager I found confidence playing sports. I dedicated many hours every week to training with a lot of enthusiasm and with faith in spending so much of my time doing one thing. The results were fruitful as I won several awards in different championships. In college, however, things changed. Mostly, I was in a new place with new people and faith in myself dwindled. As a consequence, the passion for the sport was not nearly as intense and I gradually stopped playing and enjoying it.
Since then I have found something else that gives me confidence: being a Yoga student and a teacher. I have dedicated the last 9 years to studying these profound teachings and applying them to my life as well as helping others apply it to their lives. It is clear to me that the more energy I put into it, the more I see the fruits of my labor.
In what areas of your life can you see more intense confidence, effort and enthusiasm? If there aren’t any currently, where can you direct all of this energy to?
IN THE YOGA WORLD Faith has different levels. Everybody can have different levels of faith/confidence in different areas and on different days. Such variations are a part of the human psyche. They are a product of the individual’s cultural background and capabilities. Faith is unique to who, what and why. The goal is to have adhimatra (very intense) sraddha (faith) in as many areas of our life as possible. A strong inner faith that can be sustained consistently eventually leads to moments of inner peace.
I am currently in India and yesterday we were lead into a meditation about “pushpam” or a flower. The imagery, the chanting, the breath and asana involved were very conducive to me experiencing a wonderful state of love. This however, was not the right meditation for everyone. There were other students who did not connect very much with the meditation. It is therefore very important to find the appropriate “object of meditation”, whether that object is the correct job, partner, diet, hobby…
What Patanjali is telling us clearly in this sutra are 3 main ideas:
1. We are all born differently therefore our inner potentials are different.
2. Find activities or areas of life where we can cultivate faith with lot’s of effort and enthusiasm
3. Remember that since the mind is in continuous fluctuation, this faith may change with time, therefore continuous effort is required.
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON Ara has been in my life for, wow, 27 years! She has been a close friend and it onlyseems appropriate for her to be mentioned in this sutra. Her life choices as an adult have been made through faith. Faith in herself, in her desires, in her strengths and what leads her to peace. The mother of three adorable children and the wife of a loving husband, she has built her life with a solid purpose: to raise a loving family. Her dedication, enthusiasm and energy towards her family is vivid! She clearly has that as her number one priority and very little (if anything) will stir her from her “object of meditation”. I admire her continuous and concrete commitment to her life choice. As a friend, her dedication and love are clear too. Ara, thank you for these decades of friendship and for giving so much love to your puppies: you’re making the world a better place 🙂
Do you have any experiences you would like to share? Please interact as much as you like – everyone will learn from your personal experiences!
Thanks and we will look at the concept of surrender to a greater light, a greater teacher as an object of meditation.
When I first started working in corporate america, I had no idea what I was doing. A few things I learned in College we helpful, but other than that, I was going in with no experience. My first year was tough for me, adjusting to working 40+ hours a week and learning the industry. I hated going to work every day because I always thought I couldn’t do anything right. I started to observe my other co-workers and ask more questions to understand the business. One day someone asked me to pull a report and all of the sudden it clicked. After a year , I finally was becoming more comfortable in corporate america and was confident in my work. I have seen this same scenario play out with my yoga journey and I can see myself transforming with the devotion and love I have for yoga.
Sraddha is so important in life and has often been the object of my personal practice. I’ve experienced how it can change daily depending on what is going on around and within me. One area of my life that I can focus more confidence and enthusiasm in is my path to motherhood. I’ve been on a journey of infertility for 2 years. I have been putting a lot of energy and enthusiasm into my path as a Yoga teacher and have lost focus on this other very important area of my life. This has led to some doubt and fear which I work to let go each day. I must focus on sraddha once again that my path will lead to motherhood in the right timing. By doing this I will decrease my suffering and live the fruits of peace that sraddha brings.
I think I have a similar experience as you, Lucia. I started playing volleyball about 12 years ago, and from the start, I absolutely loved it. Therefore, I played as much as I possibly could. For awhile there, I was playing 4 times a week at least. Eventually things changed. Maybe it was me, maybe it was the people I started playing with, or maybe it was the different type of attitude that I noticed on the court. In any case, I currently play barely once a week (if that). However, that intensity that I was feeling toward volleyball in the beginning sort of transferred to yoga when I started my practice. Now I find myself practicing yoga (mostly asana) 5-6 times a week, and I’ve been at it for 4 years and still absolutely love it. Now that I’m in the yoga teacher training program, I’m loving it even more because of the fact that I’m learning so much more than the asana practice. My asana practice has definitely advanced in the past 6 months since I started the program as well which gives me even more motivation and intensity to my practice.
Oh yes, the levels of enthusiasm can be different. Even for myself, they vary during the day; more energy and zest of life in the morning, not so much in the afternoon, flaring up a bit in the evening and dead at night. I find that a little nap here and there can help me restore this energy level; almost like recharging a battery. And as long as i engage in interesting activities, my alertness or happiness level can be maintained. Such activities include tennis, zumba, salsa dancing and yoga of course (yes i want that yoga butt :)). And at night when the sun goes down, a fun sitcom or some soothing music beside my partner could be nice for winding down the day. I dont see how i get bored with these activities, one or another, or any combination of those; let’s stack them up and hit em all 🙂
Every day I ask myself, am I putting enough effort, dedication, enthusiasm and faith into my life choices? I feel that I mostly am, but two things often occur: First, I have doubt in my own estimation of whether I am putting “enough in” to pursuits – am I just deluding myself? Second, I don’t believe that being more intense is necessarily better – it’s easy to get burnt out, your ego can get a false boost, and it can also lead to a sense of entitlement that because you perceive you are somehow acting more than others, you deserve more rewards of some sort. I don’t believe this is true. Pacing and intensity does vary from person-to-person, and it shows itself in different ways.
I am like your friend Ara in that I choose to direct a lot of effort and enthusiasm into being a mother, wife and running our household. I graduated from college with honors, went into corporate america with multiple job offers, and received multiple promotions in a short amount of time, but as soon as I found out I was pregnant with my first son, I knew it was all going to change. It was completely unexpected, but I knew that corporate america wasn’t going anywhere and I wanted to be an involved mom. We decided I would work just part time on my husband’s days off so that we wouldn’t have to do day care. It made things tighter financially, but family was more important. Over the years it’s been wonderful to spend time with other moms at playdates, go on special outings, be involved and do a lot of volunteering with the school. Nothing can replace connecting with Evan as we bake something together, or answering question after question from Kayden about whatever topic he’s completely into lately. My faith that I can manage the boys along with a newborn might waver some days, it’s going to be a lot, but I know it’s what I want to do and where I want to be.
I wear many hats….so many that at the end of 2014 I was forced to make a choice. A choice on allowing my focus to be on one thing that brings me joy and satisfaction. I had slowly become a mess toward the end of 2014. I wanted to do it all and well. That was not possible. This yoga teacher training is a gift and I want to immerse myself into all it has to offer.
As I read this I thought back over my last 30 years and noticed the depth of my faith has varied from kinda self centered to serving others . When I was serving others and enjoying my work I was enthusiastic,greatful, and more content in my faith. For me I tend to be more at peace when my faith is a priority and not my physical wants. It’s a roller coaster.
I know that my faith/enthusiasm/focus is my family. I love the connection that we all share. It is my true purpose to make sure that we all stay connected. It brings me peace to watch the interactions of brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. With everyones busy schedules it isn’t always easy to bring us all together and keep the connection. But I know that my persistence and enthusiasm, which I know is sometimes annoying to others, brings joy to all.
I remember how excited I was to have discovered that yoga could be like gymnastics for grown ups. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with the practice of asana. Right away I wanted to be a yoga teacher, so I started teaching. The more I learned though, the more I realized how little I knew. Yoga is so much more than asana. My confidence eroded and I stopped teaching. I couldn’t teach the sort of class I wanted to take. The last year has been an amazing journey that has renewed my confidence and enthusiasm. It feels good to finally say that I can teach the sort of class I’d like to take. There’s still so much to learn and I’m incredibly thankful for this journey.
You gave me goosebumps! “I can teach the sort of class I’d like to take” – powerful Mama!