I’ve been watching a lot of people’s practice pay of recently: students arriving in postures they’ve been working on, from backbends to inversions to arm balances. Last night Adam, my husband, completely rocked up into a handstand one minute, and the next nailed a jump through. I was floored. It was truly amazing to see. It would be a heinous lie if I tried to tell you that I didn’t feel just a tiny tinge of jealousy mixed in with my excitement and pride for him. But it was mostly excitement and happiness, watching all his practice pay off.
This month’s theme really does allow you to lay the foundations of a strong, safe & sustainable practice. Patience and perseverance can be frustrating and boring to bring to your practice, but they are profoundly rewarding. Whether is the physical or mental practice you’re focussed on, there are always periods of natural ebb and flow. It’s common to go through a period of growth, of gaining strength and flexibility, of experiencing calm and presence. And then there are periods of plateau, when you show up and feel like it’s all you can manage to keep chipping away, one day at a time. Sometimes it feels like this plateaus can go for weeks (maybe months!), and that’s when patience and perseverance really become important. Because it’s easy to be disciplined when you’re enjoying the buzz of improvement and achievement.
In practice though, it’s the periods of consolidation that require your patience and perseverance. That require you to double down and show up on your mat when you’re most frustrated, because it’s often when you’re chipping away, one day at a time, that you experience the biggest leaps forward, all of a sudden, when you’re least expecting it. Recently I’ve definitely felt that I’ve been enjoying an extended period of plateau, of consolidating my practice on and off the mat. I haven’t made any huge leaps forward, but I haven’t taken any steps back, either. I’ve been very aware of the edges of my practice, and most days I’ve been able to brush up against the edges, feeling them out, getting to know where they are and what they feel like. And in some moments lately, I’ve begun to feel those edges shift as I brush up against them. Almost imperceptibly, I extend myself out to them, and instead of encountering resistance, I feel them shudder in response to my exploration.
One day soon, I know, I’ll feel those edges dissolve. Maybe not all at once, and maybe not in a huge step, but they’ll evaporate from where they are now. I’ll have broadened my own experience and practice. Those are the gifts of perseverance and patience.
I’d love to hear your stories of how patience and perseverance have paid off in your practice!