Principles of Open Awareness: Experiment and Explore

No experience goes wasted if you have some awareness during whatever you’re doing. Even if you weren’t so present, reflection after an experience goes a long way towards integration and growth.

I can get a little caught up trying to do things well, the “best” way.

If I let this tendency take control, I wind up overworking, burning out, getting bored, giving up, and not having any fun. Not that doing my best isn’t worthwhile. It absolutely is. It just depends on how I define “best”.

The way I’ve learned to translate this natural “do the best” tendency of mine into something more positive is by expanding what I feel is “the best.”

When I practice yoga, “the best” has nothing to do with getting the pose right or balancing on my hands or breaking a sweat. For me, “the best” is approaching the whole thing as a massive, interesting experiment. An exploration of my experience. Collecting data, playing around with little changes, collecting more data.

There’s no one right answer on how to do something when the goal is to experiment and explore. It makes my practice fun, which makes it something I want to do.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes experimenting looks a lot like a laser-focus on doing things “right”.

If you’ve taken my class, you know I sometimes teach poses very specifically. Take these specific steps to get into this specific asana. Detailed instruction can be helpful and fun, and bring about aha! moments.

Depending on the day, as a student I sometimes just want to do what I’m told and see where that takes me. Other times I want to feel it out, be the captain of my own ship. I want to break free from all the guidance, play around with my position, collect data, and see what I see about my experience.

Instruction and intuition. Both are fun experiments for practice.

It’s also really fun to play with props!

You know in class we roll blankets or towels, we fold them this way and that. We use them in creative ways and feel how our bodies feel different with the props as part of our practice.

We shake things up, and we do it with some intention. As experiments go, there’s always something we’re exploring. We’ve got experiential data to collect. Given your open awareness, mindful observation tends to coalesce into inspired understanding.

If you ask me how I’d describe my yoga practice, it’s this: It’s the time I take to explore my experience with curiosity.

The technique, mindfulness, playfulness, and props…they’re all little treats that keep my exploration fresh, fun, and productive. Productive of growth, insight, support, and well-being.

My practice is an indispensable part of my life. I don’t think I’d be able to cope with the ups and downs nearly as healthily without it. And I know I wouldn’t practice if it didn’t feel fun or productive!

So this week, as every week, we experiment and explore in class. I hope to see you on zoom!