A couple of weeks ago I was driving somewhere I'd never been and I was following my GPS app which took me on a seemingly random detour. A friend who was in the car with me kept saying "Are you sure you want to go that way?" And I kept insisting that Waze must know a shortcut, or that there was traffic ahead. I was wrong. It was totally unnecessary.
When GPS devices first came out there were all sorts of stories about people turning onto railroad tracks, into lakes, the wrong way down one way streets, blindly following the directions and letting go of common sense and reason. I was always so critical of those folks, and yet here I was. And then realized that only two weeks before that, on the same exact road on the way to a soccer game I had followed exactly the same useless detour, blindly following! Well you know the saying: fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.
My blind following of my GPS was the reminder that we need to be attuned to an inner compass. We are inundated with outside voices – advice from family, friends, doctors, teachers, media, etc., and in some of that outside listening we lose our connection to our own personal guidance system. So how do we create an internal GPS? By listening to our hearts, tuning into a malleable inner awareness, one that keeps the destination in mind, but is willing to shift and adjust to get where it wants to go. By taking the time to be quiet, still, bored, and open to what the Universe might have to say. When we do that (for example, in yoga practice) we can begin to sketch out the map of our heart.
It finally feels like summer is upon us. The change of season is a great time to look at goals, reevaluate your map (the spiritual path is simply a map to a higher consciousness). Turn off the GPS awareness of outer listening, and get in touch with your own true purpose. So take this opportunity to begin to sketch out your map: it should have a point A (where you are now) and a point B (where you want to go). What it doesn’t need are all the things that might possibly stand in your path and delay you or prevent you from getting there – leave those out of the picture! As you envision your map, reflect on how it serves yourself and your needs, and how it intersects with the paths of those around you and helps them to get where they are going as well.
I actually have a lot of respect for my GPS (even though I am clearly too dependent on it). It reminds me that there is not just one path to get us where we need to go – we can choose to take highways or avoid them, to take the shortest route or the most scenic. And the answers to those questions really depend on what your personal trajectory looks like right now – there’s no right or wrong way, there is simply this question: ”what is my goal and what will get me there?” My favorite feature is “recalculating” – made a wrong turn: “recalculating”, hit some construction: “recalculating”, someone else’s car is blocking the road: “recalculating” – it doesn’t get upset, doesn’t get frustrated that something is in the way – it just knows where it needs to go, and figures out how to adjust to get there. The destination is always there, the route can meander.
I saw the movie Finding Dory this past weekend, and the story is she is trying to find her family that she lost years ago. Her motto is "just keep swimming". That's spiritual practice: Listen deeply. Draw out your map. Just keep swimming. Practice recalculating. Have faith. Enjoy the journey.
Off the mat: Keep your destination in mind, but turn off your GPS machine or app (remembering that sometimes we find the best adventures when we are “lost”). Attune instead to an inner voice, one that you have to get really quiet to hear, but one that will guide you to where you need to be (which is not necessarily where you thought you wanted to be, and might not get you there as fast as you wanted to go). Be adventurous, but use common sense. Take a different route than you are used to.
On the Mat: Take time at the start of practice to really quiet yourself. To rid yourself of external distractions so you can be attuned to your inner guidance system. In my classes this week we worked on arm balances, which require the balance of effort (working really hard, doing the prep, dedication to the practice) and surrender (letting go, releasing fear), of steadfastness (keeping the destination always in the forefront) and faith (which lets us meander on the path and find a different way of getting where we want to go).
For the Anusara junkies:
Open to Grace: Open up to an inner voice of wisdom.
Open up to the wisdom of the Universe
Ground (foundation) and ground yourself in your own personal map.
Muscular Energy: dedication/steadfastness
Drawing into FP to connect to inner voice/compass/map
Draw from fingers, toes up arms legs into heart, all awareness settling there in the inner compass.
Pull (from fingers up arms to HFP for arm balances) into the power of your heart map.
Draw into HFP (for arm balances) and pull all your energy and awareness into your inner compass.
Engage muscles with total confidence in your path.
Inner Spiral: Widen sitbones and open up to recalculating to get where you want to go.
Outer Spiral: Sink tailbone into faith in your inner GPS
Organic Energy: faith
Radiate confidence in your chosen path.
Fill your pose with faith in your inner compass.