Practice and spiritual progress

Posted in Exploration and Questions, Personal Practice at 12:19 pm by tracichildress

In Isherwood’s commentary to his translation of the yoga sutra (I.30-31, pg. 65), he writes: “Conscious feelings , however, exalted, are not the only indications of spiritual progress. We may be growing most strongly at a time when our minds seem dark and dull. So we should never listen to the promptings of sloth, which will try to persuade us that this dullness is a sign of failure as long as we continue to make an effort.” This has been an important idea for me in the last year. It has been a point of meditation and I feel I have grown from contemplating it.

I recall an introduction to a book of poetry by Mark Strand, one of my favorite poets. In it he writes of a year in his life when he found himself always in his garden and never at his desk writing. He struggled that year with a sense of sadness and lack of worth—questioning whether or not he was really a poet. I recall reading this with a sense of understanding, and since have continued to observe my own fear of not being something because I don’t appear to be doing it in a particular way. I like to recall how Mark’s introduction ended—by writing that the very book in my hand, the collection to which the story was an introduction had indeed been written that very year. He had not sat at a desk or written, but none-the-less, the poems in that book had been born and nurtured in that year—to be recorded later in a frenzy.

I think that this is something like faith—belief that we are exactly where we should be and trust that once on the spiritual path, dedication will always take us home. Writing and being creative—in addition to my yoga pracitce—help me to remember this, again and again.


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