Yoga and the Art of Cultivating Faith

Tulips blooming on West 43rd St. -- a sure sign that spring is here!

Tulips blooming on West 43rd St. -- a sure sign that spring is here!

New York City is a concrete jungle for sure, but there are pockets of nature that spring up in the most unexpected places that make this city quite beautiful. Spring is nature’s expression of faith that all things are re-born. We see it all around us – eggs hatching, flowers blooming, trees becoming filled with green leaves – once again. 

Christians just commemorated Easter Sunday, which is also an expression of faith in the rising of Jesus to Eternal Life, and an expression of faith by those who believe in and follow him that they too can be born into Eternal Life as well.

Practicing yoga is an act of faith. We know it is supposed to lead to some greater awareness that most of us can only imagine at this point in our realization. Yet, onward we go with our practice, one breath at a time. 

Here are some words of inspiration from various sources that have guided – and indeed comforted – me at this time as I’ve pursued my goals with an abiding faith.

Mother Teresa said:

We can do no great things, only small things with great love.

Reading these words helped to remind me to try not to chew off more than I can bite at any one time. Though it’s important to have goals in mind and to know what it is I’d like to achieve, the important thing is to just try to do small things with great love and see where they lead me. I’ve often been surprised to have been led to unexpected places and been ultimately drawn to things that are bringing me measurably closer to my goals simply by first having had the courage to act. And in that first moment of acting, I’ve tried to let the joy of what I am doing help keep me moving forward. Joy and love – these are expansive energies, and they can help to keep fear and doubt at bay, and ultimately move us forward. 

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said: 

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step....

Sometimes the hardest part of our journey is that first single step. I’ve experienced at times that odd, uncomfortable feeling of seeing a major and important task on my plate in front of me and observing my mind figuring out ways to delay starting — such as taking a look at Facebook one more time, or reading unimportant junk emails. That first step often takes a lot of courage, but then later we look back and often wonder, “why was that so difficult” and “why didn’t I start sooner?” Know the feeling? Indeed, that first step almost by definition is imbued with a great deal of faith. I’ve been inspired by athletes who are able to reach those seemingly unconscious states where they are just flowing, without the baggage of overthinking. So, I began saying to myself with each new task, project: “just be unconscious.” This has really helped me to take the first step.  

The Literary Nobel Prize Winner Rabindranath Tagore penned in his poem Fireflies:

Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.

To me, this says that even though we may not know the path that lies ahead as we work towards our goals, we can still sing knowing we are getting closer to them, and in singing, the journey is made that much more joyous. With joy in our heart, the path will be illuminated easier. I learned I don’t always have to know the final outcome in order to act. This has moved me to simply take action. 

And the 13th century Persian poet Rumi penned:

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.

One of the wonderful things that yoga and meditation have illuminated for me is an awareness of what I love doing. I love teaching. I love discovering new ways of blending yoga, dance, and gymnastics together with inspiring music into a fluid movement art form. I love tinkering and challenging myself to figure things out on my own the many parts that go into running the nonprofit I founded, Keoni Movement Arts. I love writing this blog! And as I’ve become aware of what I love doing, what moves me to action, I find myself wanting to do those things more and more.

As this NY Times article “Productivity Isn’t About Time Management. It’s About Attention Management” suggests: stop worrying about how long something is going to take you to complete, rather just find out what it is your mind and attention are drawn to doing and take as much time as you want to complete it. Having practiced this myself, I’ve found my many tasks to be much more enjoyable to undertake. It’s helped me to be kinder to myself, get more accomplished, and in the end to enjoy my journey more even more.

May you do small things with great love.
May you take the first single step.
May you sing as you walk Your Path.
May the beauty of what you love doing guide you towards doing more of them.
May you have an abiding Faith that can somehow benefit all beings everywhere. 

Aloha with Metta,
Paul Keoni Chun