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How I Have Used The Yoga Sutras & The Japanese Art of Wabi-Sabi To Open & Operate a Small Business

A little bit of history on how this space came to be. In 2021, working on healing my body from the year before, I began to delve a little deeper into both my perfectionist nature and the one that goes contrary to that, the nature that does not care at all. In an effort to practice imperfection and to care a little bit more about things that matter, I began this practice of not procrastinating and trusting the process of things. In other words on letting go!

Procrastination is destructive, especially when it comes to artistic projects. I held my art for too long, which the body then keeps score. The art that needs to be expressed, when unexpressed, at least in my experience has brought upon symptoms of pain, restlessness and anger.

I had convinced myself that I am not "good in business." That was a lie. I chose not to bring my focus to it. I was deep in learning mode from 2015-2019 and quite frankly I simply did not have interest in anything else but to become very familiar with contemplative Eastern philosophies like Buddhism, Zen and the yogic tradition. So, in my true "perfectionist" ways I dedicated and devoted my time to study. Now, I also want to refute why this was not perfectionism. Rather, it was single pointed concentration which the yoga sutras of Patañjali touches on in the first Pada (section).

Sutra 1.32 suggests that "practicing single pointed focus eliminates the distractions and disturbances. This sutra offers a simple yet powerful idea for counteracting the distractions and disturbances listed in sutra 1.30, as well their symptoms (1.31): one-pointedness.

In the translation and commentary provided by Sri Swami Satchidananda 1.30 talks about "disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false perception, failure to reach firm ground and slipping from the ground gained--these distractions of the mind-stuff are the obstacles." He goes on to say that "the first obstacle is physical disease. Disease makes you full, and a full mind will doubt everything because it doesn't want to penetrate into a thing to understand it. When doubt is there, there is a carelessness, a sort of lethargic attitude or laziness. And, when the mind loses the interest and alertness toward the higher goal, it has to do something else so it will slowly descend to the sensual enjoyments.

Then in 1.31 it suggest that these symptoms prevent us from concentration and meditation. And, finally comes to the truth in 1.32 that "the practice of concentration on a single subject is the best way to prevent the obstacles and their accompaniments." So, in reality my perfectionism is necessary to get things going and to create something that I like to put out there. I am not obliged to do it, yet I want to do it. So to beat oneself up for being obsessed with things is counterintuitive. Now, to take a break from it all, I could say is necessary. But, one runs into the danger of stopping to care. And, that may get tricky.

So in early 2021 as I worked to finish my certification in yoga therapy and somatics with my teacher Tias Little at Prajna Yoga, I noticed how much of my blockages were a creation of social conditioning and this idea that things need to be ripe before taking action, which left my body and mind often in paralysis. Although I took big risks in many things, business was not one of them. This was my own timing and journey and I have come to fully embrace it all.

Creating Pür Joy was one of those times. And, this time around, I was able to release the idea of perfection and simply go at it. Of course, it sneaked up on me sometimes and through my contemplation and practice, I was able to get up day in and day out to get to my goal of having the space ready to host events and clients.

And, here we are. Now we find ourselves in 2024 and operating this brick and mortar business has called for being open to the fluid nature of things and not holding on to how things worked and seeing the impermanent nature of it all. To assess and reassess what is needed and what needs to go. And, this is how wabi-sabi comes into play.

What is Wabi Sabi?

Taken from the Japanese words wabi, which translates to less is more, and sabi, which means attentive melancholy, wabi-sabi refers to an awareness of the transient nature of earthly things and a corresponding pleasure in the things that bear the mark of this impermanence.

The part about wabi-sabi that excites me most though is the acceptance of not only the transcient nature of things, also the imperfect nature of phenomena.

This imperfect, impermanent and incomplete nature of things helps us perfectionist types learn to slowly let go of how things ought to be. So as I evolve and the business too, to let go of all that I thought was going to be and see what small actions I can put into place has been a game changer. To work with the flow of things rather than force. And sometimes, not overthink things, like the writing of this piece and simply putting it out there open to critique and change. To see the business as an imperfect artistic project and one that I care about is the recipe necessary to meet the demands of the changing nature of what my community needs and what I need. To not stop learning and be open to it all only helps and enhances.

I will end with a David Whyte poem.

The Wave

You arrived as a ripple of change emanating

from an original, unstoppable,

memory, a then made now,

entirely yourself, found now in the world,

now as creator of that world,

you were a signature written in sand

taken by the ocean and scattered

to another wave form, your disappearance

only made more beautiful

by the everyday arrival of a tide

where my voice can still join yours,

hungering for the fall of water,

so that walking the reflected sand,

I set myself to learn by your going,

knowing across death’s wide ocean,

the ultimate parallel to friendship.

What say you about all this? Please share your thoughts below.


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