On Tuesday, July 2nd, we practiced some yoga for the Inner Critic.
Well, yoga is all about developing presence; a state in which one is totally present, in the “now.” As a matter of fact, the second line of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is often translated as “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of consciousness,’ or the quieting of all that busy self-talk. One of my teachers, Nischala Joy Devi, says it a little differently: “Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart,” where all is guided by and held in love. Regardless of the translation you choose, both describe a state of presence.
When the Inner Critic is in control, consciousness is NOT united in the heart. An interior battle ensues. Sometimes the Inner Critic succeeds in diminishing some creative force in us, other times the Inner Critic is beaten down, silenced, without ever having been heard. Neither result is yoga. Yoga seeks to unite all the parts we embody, to integrate.
Presence Is the Opposite of CriticizingThe environment in which an inner criticizing process can begin to transform is Presence. “Presence” is what Barbara McGavin and I call the ability or state of being with any inner experience, with interested curiosity and without judgment. Presence is in many ways the opposite of the inner criticizing process. In Presence, we are able to turn toward whatever we feel, whatever is going on in us, with gentleness, with trust in its underlying life-forward direction. In Presence, we are not trying to change what we find, but only to hear it, so that it can find its own change if it needs to.