Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mastery is a Process

"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times."
~Bruce Lee
I have always been the kind of person that loves to practice. Most of the things I loved to do, I didn't just do for fun, I wanted to be good at them. I started working out at around the age of 14. Immediately I was obsessed with the whole process. Lifting weights in a systematic manner, the diet, the feeling of increased self-esteem, it all worked wonders on a shy kid that had social anxiety issues. Until that moment, I had never given my complete attention to any activity, neither in school nor on the playground. With working out however, I was driven. 

As I grew older, this became a pattern and I started to see that talent mattered very little at whatever activity I chose to pursue. In fact, having the talent or a better ability to grasp a skill could have an adverse effect on the practitioner. If I am much better than my peers, I lose all motivation to improve further and may not become skilled in the absolute sense. This was true in the gym. The genetically gifted (or pharmacologically assisted) bodybuilders that became big and strong faster than others seldom had the patience and perseverance to stick with the regimen longer than a few months or few years. They invariably dropped out, bored or dejected because they were no longer getting the results they got in the first few months. The few of us that survived the plateaus and kept plugging at it reaped the benefits. The most important thing I learned there is to love the process itself. The journey IS the destination.

To me, what mattered more was the knowledge I gained along the way and the sheer joy of lifting for its own sake. As I got better, a funny thing happened. Not only did I get better at building my body, I got better at learning HOW to learn and could apply the same principles to any activity. The period from novice to expert was a lot shorter for me. It's quite simple. The more you practice, the better you get. The corollary to that is, unless you practice, you don't get better. I taught myself to play golf, with very little outside help in the form of one teaching pro friend who fine-tuned my swing.  95% of the learning was because I just showed up at the range, day after day and built my game from the ground up. The same principles learned during my years in the gym came in handy at the driving range.

During the Kundalini awakening process, one of the most trying journeys I have ever embarked upon (more like, deepest pool I have ever been thrown into) this habit of patience, perseverance and 'stick-to-it-iveness' paid large dividends. More than anything else, this journey is about focus, the ability to learn and the willingness to discard all known ideas, the ego and one's false sense of accomplishment. There is no room for vanity and this is definitely not for the faint of heart. It requires total commitment and willingness to face each obstacle, whether it is detractors in the form of well-wishing (but misguided) friends and family or your own mind rebelling at the changes it faces.

Of course, as described by JJ in an earlier post, the phase when the energy 'does you' and takes over makes it a lot easier since one has the road map that needs to be followed. However, even someone that considered himself disciplined came to realize that we are conditioned, programmed and full of bad habits of diet and a lack of routine. These become the biggest obstacles. We are our own worst enemy. Overcoming this inner barrier, without growing an egotistic sense of achievement at being such a disciplined person is the balancing act faced by each adept that walks this path. "Do your best and give the fruits to the almighty" sums up the crux of karma yoga. Karma, or the actions we undertake, are our birthright. The resulting actions, an offering to the almighty. Any attachment to the result, be it pride or disappointment becomes an impediment for further growth. Keeps us stagnant at that level. Do it, learn, move on. At every step of the way, inflexibility is your worst enemy. The ego and its hankering, its need to attach a label of 'I did this' to each moment gets in the way. Detach from the result and move further along the path. Stay attached and you get slowed down or come to a complete halt.

Meditation is not easy and neither is lifting heavy at the gym. Both require doing the same thing over and over. Show up at the gym and work out at a set hour, day in and day out, or sit still for 15 minutes at a set hour, day in and day out. Showing up is half the game. Consistency is the key to steady progress. Our minds play games with us.  "I'm tired." "I am just not feeling it today." "I have done it for 2 weeks straight, I deserve a break." A million thoughts arise when you are seated trying to meditate.  

Discipline is not the lack of intruding thoughts. Discipline is the process of dealing with each one and gently bringing the mind back to meditation. It can be broken down into several smaller steps. Give yourself credit for showing up and sitting down to meditate that day. Give yourself credit for sitting still the whole 15 minutes. The more you do, the easier it gets. This whole process of inculcating the habit is discipline. It is a process. Each day teaches us more about our own mind and it's ability to find new distractions and excuses. Each day we discover a technique to quell that unruly mind. Witness that struggle. Make that your meditation.

Bruce Lee once said, "Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own." Whether you are starting your journey on the path to a Kundalini awakening using the 'backward flowing method' or you are in the throes of an awakening looking for answers, remember that there are no shortcuts. Total commitment and surrender to the process are prerequisites that cannot be bypassed. The journey is the destination. Learn to enjoy each step.


  1. The concept of learning how to learn is central to every endeavor. You learn to observe, to question, to backtrack, to sidestep, to analyze, to reformulate.

    Composed of a stroboscopic series of stages in motion, golf is the perfect example. If you can't observe yourself, you won't be able to modify.

    Great post!

  2. Thanks JJ. Very true, The ability to observe oneself and be objectively self-critical comes in handy when the K energy shows you your repressed memories and trauma.