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Staying on task with Karma Yoga

September 25, 2007 by Lightwaves

michaelhead.jpgWhat happens when a choice is made? Michael McCarthy reflects on imagination and desires.

I came for the 2007 YDC and have continued to live here as a Karma Yogi. During my 8 months here I have changed my departure date 3 times. My most recent decision was to stay until December. Each time I was set to leave, something in me said that my time is not quite finished here. The ashram provides a chance to learn about my own mind and deepen my experience of the best parts of myself and others. I thought that once the choice to be here was made I wouldn’t have any doubts about my course of action. I was surprised to discover that I needed to remind myself why I was here on a daily basis.

Routine can be very comforting to me. I also know that it can lead to a decrease in awareness. Settling into the schedule of karma yoga, my mind began to drift: how is Al’s band doing? Is James going to grad school? Where is Brian traveling next? What will I do when I leave? Just because I made a choice to stay here did not mean that my mind and imagination became docile. My imagination often takes me away from the present moment.

I came here to learn about my mind. Nothing in the brochure said that it would be easy. The hardest thing about dealing with an uncultivated imagination is that it makes things seem so appealing. Of course there is nothing wrong with being in a band, traveling or pursuing higher education; judging the fantasies I entertain doesn’t provide me with a sense of inner peace. But my desire to daydream takes me away from being immersed in the present moment. This desire has to be faced, like a dieter facing the urge for sweets (that’s a whole other article).

michaelmain.jpgSo how can I support the choice that I have made? Where do I get the strength to face the desires that take me away from my goal? Firstly I need to establish what my goal is. Only then can I determine the benefits or detriments of what I feed my mind. Investigating my imagination through reflection, I have noticed that there are many desires and emotions attached to its musings. Facing the unfavorable thought patterns is where the battle becomes real: I have to confront the parts of myself that I am emotionally attached to.

The ashram has provided me with a wealth of resources (mantra, the Divine Light Invocation, reflection, Hidden Language Hatha Yoga, dream interpretation) for helping me cultivate a positive imagination and which act as my charioteer in the times of struggle. Recently I listened to a talk by Swami Radha that resounded in me like a battle cry. Surely these were the best-aimed words I had heard spoken by her. I would like to leave you with them. They have spurned me on to face what I must let go of in the pursuit of my goal. May you all find some support in her strength and determination.

One of the major things in your strategies for life is that you decide right at the beginning you are going to be victorious. You’re not going to say, “Well, I will try.” I say, “No, don’t tell me that. Are you going to do it, yes or no? I don’t care if you try. Yes or No.” Trying you can say, “Well I didn’t succeed,” because you did not decide to be victorious. And so I find many, ten years later, still being very lukewarm, not knowing what to do, where to go, what to do. Lukewarm, you will never go anywhere.

By Michael McCarthy

No Comments »

  1. Very clearly and honestly said, Michael. Thank you.

    Comment by Janet Gaston — September 27, 2007 @ 6:00 am

  2. Thank-you Micheal. Your article is ringing very true for me at this stage in my life too. Great timing, and I really appreciate Swami Radha’s words on life strategies. I know now how being “luke warm” in committment can keep us only lukewarm in our life energy. I have a poem by W.H. Murray on committment beside my computer –
    “Until one is ommitted, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness, concerning all acts of initiative (and creation).
    The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision.
    Whatever you can do or dream you can, Begin it.
    Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
    Begin it now.
    W.H. Murray

    Comment by Andy Morel — October 16, 2007 @ 8:01 am

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