The beauty of awareness.

The outward work will never be puny if the inward work is great.” – Meister Eckhart
As someone who has been dancing for almost 19 years, and is currently working as a dancer, teacher and choreographer, it is of utmost importance to me to PERFORM. Performance is a very outward action, there is a qualitative judgment in performance set against a standard set by sometimes ourselves, but more often than not, by others. My indicators of success are very much influenced by the response of others – audience response, student feedback, bosses’ feedback and so on. And so I worked, I worked hard, pushed my body to constantly break new boundaries, inching forward bit by bit, to PERFORM well. But somehow, I felt eluded by my full potential, knowing that pure hard work could only bring me so far.
My previous self only knew the concept of Tapas – perseverance to improve my skills, but I did not balance this out with the concept of Santosha, to be content with my current state, to be appreciative in my opportunities to dance, in whatever form they came in. I also was not aware that I was in fact practising Himsa – violence against myself, lack of rest, pushing beyond even when my body started giving hints of requiring rest. I knew only how to go forward, and keep going forward, and keep going forward… I knew not when to stop, when to pull back.
When I started yoga, I started on a journey inwards – building awareness of something as foundational as my breathing, to moving in asanas, to becoming more aware of my chakra energies, to the gunas and how my diet affects it and so much more. This heightened awareness has made me so much more sensitive to my daily decisions, decisions such as the food I choose, the thoughts I choose to entertain, the thoughts I choose to purely observe and not engage, the conversations I choose to involve myself in, whether to train my body further or to take a break. My regular yoga practice has made me a lot more sensitive to the changes in my body.
Awareness improves control, understanding builds trust, trust brings freedom, and the release of one’s potential. In dance, I experienced this change – Asana practice had greatly improved my understanding of my body, I was able to find my balance a lot better, able to feel my muscles moving in a deeper way, enabling me to be free and enjoy the movement a lot more. I knew when to pull back when to push forward in each movement, I knew how to find my center through the many movements.
So much more than a physical experience, in a similar, I felt this same change in the other aspects of my life. Being more aware of my mood, emotions and thoughts, has allowed me to observe myself, enabling greater control over my mind and my actions, knowing when to withdraw when to press in in various situations. Understanding myself has built within me a greater trust in the person that I am, I thus find myself striving less to be my “best self”, but instead experiencing greater freedom in who I am – a practice itself in Satya.
Experiencing my body, mind and soul shifting as one to greater awareness, is also in itself an experience of duality ceasing – “Yoga” or union. Through my journey inwards, my outward desires, to be a better performer, dancer, have come together, the self I want to be is starting to come into union with the self I currently am, and that is such a beautiful thing.
Awareness is truly the key to unlocking our potential. “The outward work will never be puny if the inward work is great.” Indeed.
Clarice 🙂