Proverbs 4:25-26 says,
"Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
Keep straight the path of your feet,
and all your ways will be sure."
During the middle of our hot yoga class we often do balance poses; poses which demand our full focus and attention.
After several years of practice, I began to notice a pattern in my experience.
We are told at the start of each class,
"There is no comparing in yoga class.
Your practice is your practice.
Keep your attention on your own mat and your own experience.
Your neighbor's practice is theirs; yours is yours."
Seems easy, right?
All practice long I find myself glancing around at others in the room:
How are they doing?
How flexible are they?
Do they drop to their knees for push-ups?
Did they take the easier modification in a pose?
Am I better?
Am I worse?
Am I sweating the most?
I am embarrased to admit this ridiculousness.
But this comparison problem builds to a fever pitch during balance poses, which are just as they sound - poses during which we contort our body into various shapes and well, poses - that all demand various levels of balancing skill.
Here's the pattern I have noticed:
When I keep my gaze straight, when I fix my eyes on my own eyes in the mirror, turning my focus neither to my left nor to my right, lo and behold I balance! I stand! I rarely stumble.
But when I start to glance around, surreptitiously peeking to see how I am stacking up against my balancing neighbor, lo and behold, I fall, I tip, I stumble out of the pose, awkward and red-faced.
It has taken me years to recognize this rhythm: Eyes look directly forward, I stand. Eyes glance right and left in comparison, I fall.
A truth in yoga, an even deeper truth in life.
I love this Proverb and it will fill my mind every time I step onto the yoga mat.
I pray it fills my mind every time I step into my life, as well.
Fix my gaze straight before me, focus on who God made me to be, not casting my eyes to my neighbor in comparison, in envy or in arrogance. Keep my focus on my own "mat," so to speak... and all my ways will be sure.