In training for some desired result, especially when it involves an expansion of some faculty, there is a sense of joy. It is leading to what is felt to be an achievement, and so it is a sort of fulfilment in itself. Mistakes have to be avoided as much as possible, but when they happen, they are corrected without any feeling of guilt – they do not really matter. However strong the efforts that have to be made, there is at the basis a sort of carefree lightness, and this we can call “light joy”.
But when it comes to the actual occasion, the arena where we have to try out the actions we have been rehearsing, how is it then? A mistake does matter now – it might be fatal to the whole enterprise.
For many, what had been an interesting challenge now becomes a frightening necessity, and the sense of joy departs.
The yoga practice is, to prepare oneself to throw away gain and loss, life and death, “as a horse shakes off the loose hairs from his mane.” For a moment, we are to try to shake off the world and its concerns like those loose hairs.
Then we are to take up the role again, but without a lot of trailing hairs of fear and hope sticking to us. In some schools, they recommend even to make a physical movement, a vigorous shaking of the body, which removes the cramps and tensions of wondering what is going to happen. When this has been practised daily for a good time, then unexpectedly before a critical moment, a conviction comes welling up from the Atman-self beyond the mind: “Let it happen, let anything happen, I am free of it all!” Then the horse goes forward confidently into the arena, its rider in deep joy.
© 1999 Trevor Leggett