On Progress

Embarking on a TaiChi or Yoga journey often seems like stepping onto a linear path, but in my own experience this has proven to not be the case.

Something about the Western Mind, in particular, insists on this sense of linear progression.

Always forward, upward, onward…

Lately, it has occurred to me that the more Time I spend on the Journey, the less linear it becomes. To speak in linear terms, there is a lot of backward, downward, sideways, and cyclical.

We tend to like Asana practice and Forms practice because they give us the tangible and concrete sense of improvement, achievement, and progress that makes sense to the Mind.

Although growth in these aspects has plenty of value, it is simply incomplete, if we are truly engaging with Yoga or TaiChi. We might accomplish a great amount, but it isn’t whole.

If our Practice were about Color, progressing in Asana or Forms would be like trying to get really good at Red; we could be the Reddest Red around, but we have been offered an entire rainbow!

This is not to suggest that practicing only the physical aspects of Yoga or TaiChi is bad. Progress in these areas is absolutely valid and measurable, which is precisely why it is in fact good. To leave Asana or Forms training out of the picture would be equally problematic.

But it’s easy to get lost in that linear-mindset. Our Type-A neuroses, our pathological Desire can easily creep in and undermine the Internal work which occurs often just outside of our field of awareness.

It has been my impression lately that the expansion of that awareness is a more useful measure of progress. The longer we keep at it, and the deeper our Practice becomes, the more we realize how much mountain there actually is to climb and how deep the Rabbit-Hole really goes.

Our perspective begins to take in more and more of the picture, and we zoom out rather than zoom in. It’s not about climbing the mountain at all. Just look at it!

Linear progress suggests that we get to leave behind, or graduate from what we’ve learned. Progress in Practice is expansive. We don’t leave anything behind. We assimilate the old and the new simultaneously, perpetually, and wholly, and they always inform each other.

We come to know the “basics” in an intimate manner as we are able to apply them across a broader and ever-broadening spectrum. Progress spreads outward, and we can grow in our Practice because we are always still embracing step-one.

Find the Center, keep the Center. The TrueSelf resides there!

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