Of all the tools that this practice of yoga provides us with none can beat the very practical application of awareness to what is arising in this present moment. What is being bandied around currently as mindfulness comes close to this but is so often applied in a way that merely serves to promote something quite other.
Through the prism of our practice we begin to notice our habitual patterns, our 'samskãras'. In his famously severe style B.K.S Iyengar would compare the 'samskãras' to oil stains on fabric, so stubborn and hard to remove. Our practice allows us however to not fret when we encounter those aspects of our "selves" that we are perhaps not so happy about. We are able to see that even the "self" that is perceiving is not the eternal self and therefore transient, and therefore a 'samskãra' itself.
This may all sound a little abstract from the outset but it is really a fancy way of describing another notion: perspective. When we are fixated on our habits and trying to rid ourselves of them, in fact what we are doing is attaching to them even stronger.
So we bring our awareness to the ever arising breath, that which cuts through the residue of the past yet has the power to heal it at a very deep level.
We bring our awareness to the physical body, its workings, its rhythms and realise that this "self" that elaborates these complex habits, this "self" that makes up these amazingly inventive stories, can drift so far from reality.
There is a meditation from the buddhist tradition that consists of thinking back progressively through your day, then through your week, then through your month, then through the season, the year, the past few years, to your previous stage of development, all the way through the decades to your childhood and through to your infancy and on until 'pop', there you are sitting on your meditation cushion holding... nothing... at all.
This practice is a beautiful way of cutting through the habit patterns we have formed, noticing that at each stage of our lives we have held something so dear, identified with something so closely and yet the eternal self has remained the same; untarnished. It is also a sure way to exhaust the monkey mind!
So why did I give this blog post its title? because I truly believe that these 'samskãras' we identify with and behave according to, make us heavy. This heaviness I refer to is not physical (though maybe even?) but then neither are we. Let us learn to shed weight gracefully through the application of awareness to what is arising now, only now. Like water off a duck's back let the rest slip away.