Lifelong Learning Blog

Practice + Non-Attachment = Perseverance

As I was driving through the Columbia Gorge a few weeks ago, something caught my eye. The trees were black at the bottom from the fire devastation, but as I gazed upward tiny sprouts of green were emerging from the top. These trees had survived the fire from last summer and lived to tell about it. One could say that they persevered or maybe they just had stronger roots. We may never really know why a few trees were sprouting while others lay completely dead around them but that contrast from black to green was such an incredible sight! It reminded me of a conversation that I once had with my yoga teacher. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali writes about the perseverance in reference to practice and non-attachment. Abhyasa and vairagya always go together. It is said that these two concepts are the principles on which the entire system of yoga rests. Which is what led me to ask my teacher one day if there would ever be a time when it would be wise for practitioner to deliberately stop practicing something if the entire practice of yoga hinges on practice. Is there ever a time when it is not appropriate to persevere? It turns out that the answer is very much held in the second part of the yoga equation which is non-attachment.

My teacher explained that we don't keep practicing and practicing with the goal of getting certain results. And if we're not seeking certain results, why would there ever be a time to contemplate not practicing. Instead, we practice and persevere without concern for the outcome because realistically we can't know what that will be. So we practice for the very purpose of persevering. And while we're doing that, we practice non – attachment by doing a lot of observing and a lot of non-judgmental noticing. From that place of noticing, we are able to see beyond our fears, beyond our struggle, beyond our sorrows, and even beyond our joys. The practice of persevering is a type of fire that illuminates our truth so that non-attachment might birth the true desires of our heart into being. Author and speaker Glennon Doyle Melton uses the phrase, "First the pain. Then the rising." to speak about a similar concept. There will always be an opportunity for persons to cause pain to our environment, to each other, and to themselves. We can know that and choose to live every moment of our lives from that day forward carrying the torch of fear. We can also acknowledge the pain, acknowledge the fear, and determine to keep practicing, to keep seeking truth, and to keep persevering in our practice of life.

What gives you courage to keep persevering?

profile picAmy Brock

Practicing Intention

Our January theme is Intention. One of the ways that we can invite intention into our hearts and homes is through a ritual of invitation. One such ritual that many practice is that of Sankalpa. Sankalpa is a Sanskrit term. It is thought that the term Sankalpa once meant to have a resolve. Today, many interpret it to mean more of a promise to focus on that which is already within oneself. In some traditions, a ritual of Sankalpa is practiced by beginning with a purposeful statement of "I will". In more recent years, Sanskrit scholars have determined that the English phrase of "I am" better reflects the original intent of Sankalpa. Many individuals take time to practice the ritual of Sankalpa before yoga classes, before large life changes, and at the beginning of the year. Some persons create both long term and short term Sankalpa statements.

A Sankalpa is not something that one can successfully meet or not meet. It already exists within oneself. However, Sankalpa statements can be reflected on from time to time to determine how great of influence it is having on one's life journey. They serve as sort of a compass so see if one is headed in the direction that they desire to go.

To create a Sankalpa, begin by sitting in quiet a space. Think about what you might wish you could do or be better at. Then, start to let the mind wonder about which of those things might hold some current presence within you. For example, if you want to be more fit, you might think about what kind of movement you are capable at this moment of creating or what kind of movement brings you joy. A Sankalpa statement for this might be, "I am moving. I am cultivating health in my body". If you wanted to be more peaceful, you might reflect on what you need to find peace. A statement for this might be something like, "I am listening. I am at peace."

The ultimate goal of an intention, resolution, or Sankalpa is to inspire one to be their best selves. What practices or rituals do you use to set goals on your journey? What are some of your goals for the year? We would love hear about the steps, practices, and intentions that you are taking to be your best self in 2018! Send your stories to


Amy Brock -Director of Lifelong Learningprofile pic