Dance As If No One Is Watching.
What would it look like to not be concerned with what people thought? How would that feel?
I am not asking to be given carte blanc for my actions regardless of their effect. This is not an invitation to abhorrent behavior. I care deeply and wish to present myself in the best possible manner.
What I’m asking is what would it look like, how would it feel to not waste my precious energy on how others receive my offerings or interpret what they believe to be me? Perhaps I fear that if I did not care what others thought I might give up and then what would justify my existence? In this case, using opinions, positive or negative, as reward and whip to goad me into action, looking outside myself for proof that I am worthy of taking up space. This is a hole that can never be filled.
Of course I do need to be concerned with my appearance and behavior in relationship to others, to those groupings, family and community that I treasure. I do wish to act with dignity and love. And on the practical side, if I wish to keep my job and be paid, then I best care how my effort is received. But where is the line drawn?
What would it look like, how would it feel to not be concerned with the approval of others? Of course we have norms ands laws for a reason, without them dignity and respect is lost and chaos ensues. But to act from some cultural or moral standpoint that is legislated from the outside alone is a recipe for unhappiness.
What I am wondering is how would it feel to stand firmly in my own light? To hear the inner command of my deepest self, know the profundity of my heart, of life altogether and then to move in the world from this place, honoring this voice. How would that look?
Karma Phala Tyaga says the Bhagavad Gita. Karma, action; Phala, fruit; Tyaga, renunciation. You have the right to your purpose, your dharma, your life, but not its fruit. Every human longs for purpose and meaning, to be of service in some way, to some degree; to feel that life is for some purpose other than mere survival and the occasional markings of growth and celebration society applauds. We need to answer this call, it is our birth right as humans. We are entitled to our life, our work, but not its fruit. Tough one this. Do well. Give your all and be not concerned with outcome. No, that’s not quite it.
We can and should be concerned with outcome just not taken hostage by it. Seduced if it is positive and well received, becoming a sort of addict; or crushed, annihilated, destroyed if negatively taken. In either case, we are in a prison of our own making.
We humans crave to feel of purpose no matter the degree or impact on the larger stage of life. How would that feel? Free. Totally completely free. All the energy would be freed to apply elsewhere like living my best life.
It’s tricky though. Care about your work, your dhama, your presence, do your best and release attachment to outcome. Wow, that’s flying without a net. How would that look? How does one move in the world doing their absolute best and not seek approval? This does not mean we don’t need feedback. Refinement is crucial on every possible level. If we are to increase perspective and correct course, feedback is necessary. To hear that feedback and apply it efficaciously is what polishes refinement. To do so without supplying ammunition to a lesser sense of self identity is a skill. And yoga, as the Gita tells us, IS skill in action. Discernment without judgment is a skill of perspective and nuance.
So a practice of yoga is not something done just on a mat. Asana means seat. The body needs to be healthy, supple and strong so that it can do its work. To be embodied is truly a gift. To know it as such takes practice. In a word yoga.
And at its heart, yoga is meditation. The practice of yoga is so intelligent! Asana for the body, pranayama to nourish the subtle body, dharna, to increase focus, the mind’s capacity for laser like sharpness, all to prepare the ground for the supreme practice of meditation.
Meditation then is the foundation, the source from which we live a full, and fully engaged, life. In deep meditation we melt our limited individual sense of self and surrender, open, expand to the fullness that is the deepest core of reality. In doing so, we experience something indescribable which is why it must be known not simply talked about. We steep awareness in this wholeness, that is our very self, and are refreshed. In that refreshment we bring something up to the surface and life is enhanced.
Innocently, naturally we increase our perspective, open our hearts and clarify our minds.
Meditation shifts awareness for the better, for good. I care and deeply, but standing in my own light more firmly permits that caring to focus like a laser beam on what it is I wish to offer instead of wasting precious energy on what others might think. In meditation we draw awareness like an arrow back deeply into wholeness, such that when it is is released outward in life, it hits the target of my attention with full potent accuracy every single time.
Dance. Nataraja dances the ‘ananda tandava’, the wild dance of existence on both the cosmic and individual level, creating, maintaining, dissolving, concealing and revealing simultaneously as the music of time plays on.
Dance skillfully. Dance freely. Dance with your whole heart. Stand firmly in your light and just dance. Meditate.