Teaching Ashtanga,  Uncategorized,  Yoga Philosophy,  Yoga Sutras

Mantra of the Week: Stay in Your Lane

I didn’t come up with it. Abraham Hicks did.

Driving is a tremendous test of faith. There are roughly 210 million licensed drivers in America. When all 210 million stay in their lane, everything is smooth.  If any of us get out of our lanes, we suffer. At the least we are angry, surprised, or scared when someone swerves into our territory. At the worst, we are dead.

Think about your mind. How many thoughts are going through it all day long? Google seems to think we have around 70,000 thoughts a day. How many of them are in your lane?

Obsessing about what other people think….is not in your lane.

Obsessing about what other people are doing…is not in your lane.

Obsessing about what other people may be thinking about you…is not in your lane.

Getting angry about who other people choose to love…is not in your lane.

Obsessing about decisions that other people have already made…is not in your lane.

Worrying about the weather…is not in your lane.

Worrying about the past..is not in your lane.

Worrying about the future…is not in your lane.

Trying to be something you are not…is not in your lane.

Coveting other’s unique gifts…is not in your lane.

Comparing yourself to others…is not in your lane.

Anything that your mind obsesses about that you have no control over, is not in your lane. We cannot control all 210 million people driving along side us. The only way to stay sane is to let them take care of their car while you take care of yours. Even if they come into your lane, you still have to control your car to keep from hitting their car. You can still only control what you can control.

As I used this mantra this week, I discovered that about 80% of my thoughts were not in my lane.  The first few days I used it, my mind was a whirling mess. I probably spent the first few days totally out of my lane and stressed. As the week progressed and I started to label my thoughts, “not in my lane”, I stayed in my lane more and more. The more I stayed in my lane, the better I felt.

Abraham Hicks also talks about creating your reality and the Law of Attraction. However, within this, they are also saying stay in your lane! Why? My favorite quote for stuff like this is from Eckhart Tolle who says, “all truth is a paradox.” For instance, on one level, we are all made of the same energy but on another level, we are different.  We can say, “we are all one” but yet I am sitting here writing. You are sitting somewhere else, reading.  Is it a lie? No, it is the truth from a certain vantage point. From space, you cannot see humans walking on the earth. Does that mean, there are no humans?

As humans, though our capacity maybe unlimited, we only have access to a limited amount of it LOL.

In yoga, they call this Isvarapranidhana. The Sutras say to practice consistently and study, which are actions you take, but also to surrender. Why? The Sutras say you can get powers like a god but you also need to pick a god. LOL Why would god pick a god? Surrender and god represents the principal that you can only control so many things at one time. Trying to control everything will rob you of happiness.

Even  in the religious texts, God removes his hand sometime.  In the Bible, Genesis Chapter 2 vs 1 -3, it says God created the heavens and earth and it was finished.  In the story, he pops up from time to time but people are mainly just doing their thing. Even God lets go.  Even though the God of the Bible is omnipotent, God is finished sometimes. The same is true for all religious stories.  If God is finished sometimes and choosing to not actively control everything, what makes you think that you should?

The very first step on the path of Yoga is to surrender.  The first verse of the Yoga Sutras says, “And now the instruction on Yoga.”  You don’t read the instruction manual unless you don’t know how something works or how to put it together. The Yogi surrenders to the process of Yoga while taking the appropriate actions to achieve Yoga. The Yogi is taking the least possible actions they can to achieve this.  The first book of the Sutras is for the advanced student and it gives the most direct instruction.  It basically says surrender, practice non attachment, say Om if you need it and you will get all these awesome Samadhi/bliss states and eventually your crazy thoughts will cease. Done.

We have enough to work on when we take full control over what we can control. I discovered that, when my thoughts were in someone else’s lane, they were not in mine. I was loosing control of the wheel in my own car. There are things in our own lives that could be stronger  but we are too busy thinking about where other people are strong.  Worrying about how much money other people make instead of making our own money. Obsessing about someone’s pose on social media instead of working on our own poses. Worrying about the students who didn’t come to class instead of focusing on the ones who did. Worrying about what other people think about us instead of working on how we think about ourselves.  Worrying about what Trump is doing to change the world instead of changing the world ourselves.

Staying in our own lane is powerful. It is beautiful to be able to drive my car with 210 million other people in harmony.  It is beautiful that, because we choose to to take responsibility for our own cars,  we all get to where we want to go!! All the lanes on the road lead to the same exits. Everyone around us is just trying to live their lives and be happy. If we all go on our own individual journeys, in our own lanes, we will get there.

Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail shanna@ashtangayogaproject.com.

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