By Robyn Moreno, October, 2010
“On the path of the tiger, we begin to look at our lives with an eye to what to cultivate and what to discard.” ~ Sakyong Mipham
When I was younger, my family used to call me “friend of the friendless” because I would befriend almost anyone. You name it: misfits, nutsos, ex-cons.
While some of the relationships turned out to be rewarding, proving that you can’t judge a book by its slightly sketchy cover, other instances left me with the realization that maybe I should be a little pickier about who I spent my time with, usually after my wallet—or boyfriend—was stolen.
But those were my lessons to learn and maybe my karma to burn.
Developing discernment (commonly known as exercising good judgment) goes hand in hand with experience and growing up. It’s only when you’ve been on the road for a while, can you look back and see that the trajectory of your life is in direct proportion to the decisions you made.
That is powerful and pretty darn daunting because not only do we have to make decisions every day for the rest of our lives, but as yogis, the idea of how our decisions affect others is paramount.
In The Places That Scare You, Pema Chödrön instructs us to:
Approach what repulses you.
Help those you think you cannot help.
Go to the places that scare you.
Gorgeous advice, but is that always really the best thing for you? Faced with an aggressive sibling, or a nasty co-worker, when do you dig your heels in and try to help and when you do walk away to save your sanity?
This is where discernment comes in.
I remember one day during my yoga teacher training, as my Sanskrit teacher taught us about vibration, sound, and the importance of breath, she asked the class pointedly: “Where will you put your prana?”
This was especially intriguing to me because as a Gemini I have like five jobs and endless projects and am constantly running around from one thing to the next.
What has really helped hone my sense of discernment about where I put my precious prana has been meditation and asana practice. When I can get quiet, I can turn inwards towards my sushumna and find the right answer. And when I am on the mat and choose a Childs pose over a Chaturanga, or maybe a sweaty vinyasa class over a chiller restorative, I know that I am in tune with my body and psyche and what it needs for that day and that helps grow my confidence in my decision making.
Another great tool that I created with the help of my therapist (and meditation teacher) is to ask myself this question every time a conundrum comes up: Does this serve stillness?
It works like this:
Robyn to Self:
“Should I go to the Kirtan though I’m super tired?”
Self to Robyn: “Does this serve stillness? Hmmmm. No!”
Robyn to Self:
“Should I go out with the cute boy tonight, though there are a pile of stinky yoga clothes staring at me very un-saucha like in the corner.”
Self to Robyn: “Does this serve stillness? Hmmmm, yes?”
Ok, maybe that last one was more Robyn to Robyn, but you get the point.
I strongly recommend you develop your own internal question that works for you. It might be: What serves my family? What serves joy? What serves my health?
Inevitably though as yogis, and humans, our united question should always be: What serves love?
I’m pretty sure the answer would always be right.