The Master Sticks to Her Tools

“The master sticks to her tools.” – Lao-Tzu

Lao-Tzu reminds us that masters of any craft have learned to stick to working with their tools. Upon embarking on a path of personal exploration and growth, the same principle applies. It is crucial to continuously apply the principles of the practice over time to cultivate more understanding, compassion and wisdom.

In the practice of yoga, we apply the tools of steadiness and ease. Yoga Sutra 14 states that the seat of a yogi is steady and full of ease. To be steady, we need to learn to show up. Steadiness is essentially our ability to show up for each moment in our lives regardless of our circumstances. My teacher Rolf Gates says that steadiness leads to equanimity, as we learn to welcome whatever the moment brings. But how does one learn how to show up? And exactly can we do to become better at showing up?

This is where yoga and mindfulness based practices become incredibly practical in teaching us the skills required to show up consistently. Practicing yoga, we learn to pay attention to how we move our body in time and space. We practice synchronizing the movement of our breath with the movement of our body and this coordination demands that we become increasingly mentally and physically self-aware and present in the moment. As our asana practices matures and deepens, our ability to attune and focus simultaneously develops into a critical life skill we can use at will. We can show up for our lives with increasing amounts of intention and equanimity.

Whether we are sitting for meditation or breathing into poses on our yoga mat, we are tuning are awareness to the present moment. We observe the movement breath and the changing nature of our thoughts, and by watching them move and then letting them pass, we are cultivating a way of showing up for life that is unattached to the circumstances in which life is unfolding. It’s as if we were watching waves undulate effortlessly through the ocean, unobstructed by judgment or identification. As the Thai forest monk Ajahn Chah taught, “be the one who knows.” We have learned to become a witness to the wonderful creatures that have come to drink at the still, forest pool of our mind, and can welcome them each with steadiness and ease.