I've been continuing my studies of the Austerities by reading Swami Chidvilasananda, first Sadhana of the Heart and now The Yoga of Discipline. I try to make time to read some every morning, though that's challenging given how I love to stare the early morning away, walk the dog, ride my train of thought around the internet. But since I still haven't created a regular meditation practice for myself, I figure the least I can do is carve out some time to read a couple of pages, re-devote myself, get my head on straight for the rest of the day.
The particular chapter in The Yoga of Discipline that I just finished, "Teach Your Eyes How To See," has been -- sorry, can't resist -- eye-opening. Practicing discipline in seeing means being discriminating about what we take in through the eyes, about maintaining shiva-drishti -- i.e., seeing what's beautiful, what's auspicious, the divine in every form. "The world," Gurumayi says, "is as you see it. If you cannot find happiness in your attitude, in the way you look at things, then you cannot find happiness anywhere else either." It is no wonder that Gurumayi is the teacher of my teacher and the teacher of my teacher's teacher -- Anusara begins with attitude, all in the interest of happiness.
What's so wonderful about Gurumayi's words is how practical she is, how cognizant she remains that "as people living in this world, there are so many things you have to do. You are not living in a monastery like a cloistered monk who has the privilege of seeing only nature with all its beauty. You have to do quite a few things that are unpleasant." How to cope with these unpleasant things? "All you need to do is pray inwardly to honor every form. Whatever happens, see the Lord there." I read "think" where she writes "pray" and "nature" where she writes "Lord," and then it's all good. Yes, so many unpleasant activities are made so much more pleasant if I approach them with the same open-eyed delight as I would bring to a visit to the aquarium or a really good beach-find.
And really, just so practical. Here's how to start the day:
When you first wake up in the morning, instead of rushing out of bed, pause and repeat your mantra. Then rest your eyes upon the murti, the statue of a deity, or a photo or any object of worship. It could be a photo of your chosen deity or of your Guru -- whatever is closest to your heart on the spiritual path. You let your eyes rest upon that, and then you begin your daily routine, whatever it is -- brushing your teeth, taking a shower, going to meditate. After that, you pause.I've always been an altar-builder, and have long arranged things so that I see my most favorite things (aside from my husband, of course) when I open my eyes in the morning. What I see first is books, my beloved dive-log, nature guides, lichen, feathers, my mala, coyote, bones, flowers, Shiva, and as the photo below depicts, my favorite perfume (Prada, delicious).