“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” I use this quote by Mike Tyson in my men’s book Backbone in the chapter about Warrior energy.
Many good people I speak with these days feel like they’ve been punched in the face by recent events. Anyone who is living consciously can relate to the experience of being knocked off course, knocked down, or getting a blow to the face (or the heart). Disappointments, failures, and “knock downs” – big and small – are part of the process of living. Our yoga training, especially our inner yoga practices like meditation and self-inquiry, can prepare us to face the ups and downs and face-punches of life and stay in our heart, stay in our wisdom. But how?
There’s a great Sanskrit word you may have heard in your yoga class: drshthi (drish-thee). It means vision. In asana sequences, it refers to where the practitioner is putting his or her gaze, where they are looking with their eyes. In inner yoga, drshthi refers to our perspective, the “way we see”. And, according to Yoga philosophy, how we see is EVERYTHING.
There is very old yogic text called the Yoga Vasishtha. It has one key aphorism that says
ya drshthi – sa srshthi
The word srshthi (sirsh-thee) means “creation”. Put together, this verse could mean “As is your vision, so is your creation.” Sometimes I have seen it translated as “The world is as you see it.”.
This is a massively empowering teaching.
Our vision determines everything. It determines our state. It determines our choices. It determines our life. And collectively, everyone’s combined vision determines the way the world manifests. More than any practice, more than any strategy, more than any training regimen, “vision work” has leverage.
But like any other yoga practice, it takes a little elbow grease. We have to get in there are work with our vision. It’s one of the first things I establish with the people I work with privately. I help people to identify what their vision is; their vision for their life, their vision for themselves, their vision for their future. We get detailed. It’s not a magic idea of “manifestation” where we just create a vision board and “let the universe do the rest”. No. We may make a vision board, but our vision is our blueprint. Our vision is what guides our intelligent massive action. It guides our choices in the outer world, and it guides the decisions we make about our training.
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of teaching someone to meditate or get free on an inner level, I want them to know where they are headed, or at least where they want to be headed. Then, all of their practices have a directedness. We know what qualities of being we want to cultivate and what inner enemies we need to eliminate. Then we might see that someone needs more yin practice, more meditation, more compassion and “softening” work. Or, we might see that they need to do more “yang” work, more strength building, or kick boxing, or primal screaming. That’s the great thing about being a yogi in 2016, we have so many different teachings and practices to choose from. But we need to have that clear drshthi first so we know where we’re headed and what we really need.
In addition to knowing what we want to create, part of our drshthi is also what we believe, what our standards for life are, and what our deep values are. Our drshthi is “what makes us tick.” This aspect of drshthi is about a clear and intimate self-knowledge. Knowing who we are on this level, combined with knowing what we want to create in life, is a VERY powerful combination.
Then, when they get punched in the face, they know what to do (and how to be).
When calamities strike, big or small, local or global, personal or societal, it’s disorienting. It is like a blow to the face. We get scrambled, dizzied, confused and stunned. If we don’t have vision, we might be apt to get reactive, or shut down and be avoidant. We might even use or yoga or meditation practice like an avoidance mechanism – curling up in our yoga blanket and pretending it all isn’t happening. But when we have a clear vision – especially one that our heart is deeply connected to – we know where to look. It’s like we wake up in a pile of rubble, rubbing our eyes. As soon as we can, we get up and start moving forward. If we have that clear vision, that clear drshti, we know which way to go.