Why do I advocate for yoga?
Honestly, it is the thing that keeps me going most days.
Right now, I am doing another fundraiser for Project Yoga, and I’m gonna be honest, no matter how much I prepare, it always stresses me out. The other night at work, I was having a Holly-Meltdown-Moment and my co-worker stopped me, grabbed my hands, and said, “let go of the fruits”.
This sutra has been creeping up on me a lot lately, and Stacy saying those words reminded me exactly why I work where I do and why I need yoga.
While running this fundraiser, I have had to practice trusting and applying this verse, and it has been a pretty challenging, and profound, experience.
The concept of letting go of the fruits of your labor unfolds in a number of yoga sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. In a variety forms, the point comes across that we shouldn’t attach ourselves to our work, nor the outcome of our work. Whether we succeed, or we fail, the result of our labor is not ours. You are not the work that you do, or the result, because it extends beyond the self and into everyone and everything else.
You are not the work that you do. You do not own the results of the work that you do. It does not matter if you fail or if you succeed, both are equal, and neither defines you. You are more important than the work that you do.
That is a really, really hard concept to grasp–to work really hard for something, and completely detach yourself from the result, and even not to define yourself to the effort– seems pretty crazy… And clearly, I fail at this a lot. And that is a humbling reminder of how very human I am.
But, I continue to practice. And I am so grateful to work somewhere and with people, who remind me of these lessons each and every day and help me apply them to my daily life. Which is why I have to advocate for it. Because I like to imagine that I am not the only one who struggles with things such as this.
- Do your work, but do not concern yourself with the results. When we aren’t concerned with the outcome, we do a better job as we are able to focus entirely on our efforts, instead of the results. Ultimately, all we can do is the best we can, and there comes a point where the results simply aren’t up to us. It is a humbling reminder that there is something greater than us has a say in the matter (which, honestly, to me, is a relief).
- No matter how much I love fruit, the “fruits” of your labor aren’t yours. This is pretty tough to grasp in the Western world, where private property lies at our foundation. But through yoga, we recognize the union and oneness in all things, so what is mine, is yours, and what is yours, is mine. Ultimately, it is all a part of something greater than the self, as it percolates into everything else.
- Don’t define yourself by what you are doing. Let go of the ego and pride around your hard work. Simply do it, knowing that is not yours, and it does not define you. Instead of putting the effort in allowing it to define you, focus on how you are being, not what you are doing.
- Don’t be lazy. Work is overwhelming, and challenging, especially when we are told to let go of our attachment to it, you might just not want to do it. But just because it is tough, doesn’t mean we run from it. We have to try, that is where the practice comes in.
- And then, be steadfast in your dedication to the practice, whether you succeed, or fail, accept the present situation and be equanimous to both success and failure.
Over the last week, I have been forced to put this practice into action. The campaign has less than 24 hrs left, and we still have a ways to go to meet our goal. But I must surrender, and trust, that I already have, and will continue to do, my very best, and that I have to let go of the rest. Whether we meet the goal, or we don’t, it will unfold exactly as it is supposed to. And that ultimately, you are not the work that you do.
I can say with absolute certainty that yoga is the reason I am who I am, today. The practice continues to teach me and support me in so many ways. And I know that I need it. And I have to imagine that I am not alone in this, that I am not the only person who has these melt-down-moments. That I am not the only one who find themselves attached to the outcome of our work.
The practice teaches me how to breathe through anxiety, to deal with death, to trust my gut, and everything in-between. Most importantly, it teaches me to be and helps me to be the best that I can possibly be.
No matter who or where you are in the world, we must first learn to interact with ourselves, before we can engage with anything or anyone else. And the practice offers this gift and continues to unfold a myriad of ways we can better be.
Current, and different interpretation than my last, of Bhagavad Gita 2.47-2.48.