As I continue to immerse myself in my yoga philosophy and meditation studies, I am reminded again and again of the importance of diligent practice. Diligent practice is one of the pillars of a yoga practice ~ the idea that we must continue to show up and put in the effort.
One of my teachers with whom I am currently studying, tells a beautiful story of him watching waves crashing down on a beach. He notices a large log being violently rolled onto the beach, where for a moment it rests peacefully, until the next wave pulls it once again into the tumultuous seas.
He then sees two surfers out in the same ocean. Each time one of the surfers catches a wave, similar to the log, he is thrown from his board and both he and his board are mercilessly tossed around. At that point, my teacher is certain that having encountered such a violent lashing, the surfer for sure will call it a day. But instead, the young man crawls right back onto his board and goes back out for more. It becomes clear that this man understands that in order to be able to ride the uncontrollable ocean, he must continue to head out into its waves of uncertainty in order to practice and hone this skill.
The other surfer, however, has a different experience. He too fearlessly catches a wave, but unlike his friend, he manages to stay on his board demonstrating not only skill, but effortless grace. Even when the wave seemingly crashes down upon him and you are certain he is done, he resurfaces still on his board, demonstrating a mastery developed no doubt from years of practice and discipline.
Many of us, much like the log, live at the mercy of life’s circumstances, being mindlessly tossed around from one thing to another, moving to and fro through life’s experiences. And though we may wish for calmer waters, we are not willing to put forth the effort to learn to ride the waves of life, even though we are certain they will continue. Some even go so far as to paint a skillful picture on social media; but if you look behind the words and images, you see that those very people are being thrown around in a wave of bad behavior, gossip and do not take any accountability for the consequences in which they find themselves.
To live proactively and to take responsibility for the circumstances of our lives require that we continue to show up to life in a curious and interested manner. Unlike the log, we have a freedom of choice in the manner in which we respond to all that we encounter.
Just like these surfers, with effort and practice, we too can learn to ride the waves of life with effortless grace. In the beginning, as we are learning to master this skill, we too will be knocked down in our efforts. But, the importance is to ride back out into the world ~ to show up.
It is through all of our failings, challenges and struggles that we will eventually learn how to live with effortless grace. Though we are unable to control the tempestuous seas of life, we are able to choose how we swim in them. Diligent practice is but one of the strongholds of a skillful and graceful life.
Namaste ~ Shari ~
Inspired by the late Zander Venezia Jr Pro Surfer. Sometimes the young are our best teachers as to how to live our lives. May you rest in peace Zander.
Photo Compliments: Burkie Surf School, Barbados