TENACIOUS D-etermination

Tenacity is the practice of persistent determination as we move towards fulfilling our intentions.  Once we choose a specific goal,  we must cultivate the patience and stamina to get up when we fall or refocus when we lose our way.
When exploring the virtue of tenacity, I struggled to find much in-depth writing from the yogic perspective.  The following quote is sourced from my original inspiration to work through the practice of the 18 Ities – Happinez magazine.  It reminds me of the importance of returning to my intentions.  When things get tough for me, when I feel myself grasping and clinging on for dear life – if I return to my intention ALL IS WELL.

Perseverance.  Life is a spiritual search and this search is not a straight, vertical line, it’s a winding road.  Dark patches, mountain roads, side-paths, crossroads where choices have to be made, getting lost, stumbling, getting back up again.  These aspects are all part of it.  This is where we learn to be tenacious.  What was the objective?  If we bear this in mind, we won’t easily let go.  Don’t be discouraged if something fails.  But more importantly: don’t be discouraged if you sometimes fail.  Hold on to who you are as well as who you want to be.

~ Happinez Magazine



How do you want to BE? FIX IT and DON’T forget it!

photo credit: Steph Dull
Fixity is the eighth virtue in The Ity Project.  Fixity encourages us to choose our goals and keep them fixed in our minds, steadily and faithfully moving towards them with sincerity and veracity.  With one-pointed focus and equanimity, we are able to resist distractions and return to our intention.
We cultivate fixity in our asana practice by setting our gaze(drishti) or turning our attention to our breath.  We can deepen our focus in meditation by choosing a particular object to meditate or gaze upon.   A true shift in perspective can occur when we broaden the concept of fixity and focus on our state of being as a whole, rather than accomplishing specific goals.
Rather than focusing on specific goals and achievements in your life, we are going to shoot even higher!  We are going to flip the societal script away from some of the typical questions we ask to set our goals:
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What will you study?
  • What are your aspirations?
  • How much money do you want to make?
  • Who do you want to marry or when will you have kids?
  • What will you accomplish or accumulate?
Instead today, ask yourself, “HOW do you want to BE?”  How do you want to BE in this world for however long you have?  How do you want to BE as a person, a human?  How do you want to BE as a friend, a partner, a lover, a co-worker, a relative, or perhaps a parent?  How do you want to BE with a stranger or a child?  How do you want to BE in a stressful situation?  How about in a joyful or mundane situation?  When you leave this life, how will one describe the essence that was you?
Set this sense of BE-ing as your sankalpa. Do not forget it.  Avoid fickleness and distractions.  The other goals you choose to set will naturally fall in line with the intention you have created.  Accomplishments will come with greater ease because they will be a reflection of who you are.  Cultivating and working towards this BE-ing will become your greatest achievement in life.

The Last of Human Freedoms Is The Ability To Choose One’s Attitude.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s horse hitch for the Dana-Thomas House – Springfield, Illinois.
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
~ Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
In our day-to-day lives, we often surrender the power to choose our attitudes and reactions.  We allow ourselves to fall prey to conditioning and habitual reactions and then blame the external forces we believe to be responsible.  When studying equanimity, I was struck by reading Viktor Frankl’s accounts of the Holocaust.  Ultimately, no matter the circumstance, we have a choice.
When we choose to cultivate the virtue of equanimity, we acknowledge our own power.  With patience and awareness we can begin to greet success and failure, pain and pleasure, and insult and compliment as equals.  These apparent opposites are simply two sides of the same coin.  We have the ability to shape how we receive even the experiences we feel no control over.  This ability in fact is our power.
How though do we receive pain and insult with the same joy as praise and pleasure?  The trick is to refrain from judgment and attachment.  As soon as we place judgment upon a situation, as soon as we label it as good or bad, we have lost equanimity and given away our power.
As we begin to detach ourselves from extremes in reactions, are we to be indifferent?  No.  We are simply cultivating the ability to not be shaken from our centers, our true selves.  There are atrocities and injustices in this world and we should be moved to action.  Many inspirational examples of great leaders such as Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. and extraordinary citizens like Anton Schmid and Oscar Schindler, embodied the virtue of equanimity.  They were able to make unbelievably hard and courageous choices despite the personal risks.
Working towards equanimity is a life long practice.  As our fortunes inevitably change, we will be challenged by our conditioning, habits and an ego that seeks comfort and praise.  Cultivating equanimity ensures that we are not moved out of reaction.  We can feel pleasure without clinging and experience pain without hating and condemnation of ourselves or others.  Working towards even minded openness allows us the freedom and space to choose our attitudes and responses despite our circumstances.  When we let go of our habit of judging and telling ourselves stories we are able to connect to others on a deeper level.  We are strong enough to act from our true selves whether we are faced with the monotony of life or extraordinary choices.




You’re So Vain. . . You Probably Think This Is About You!


What do you consider beautiful?
 What is ugly?
 Can you see the perfection in imperfection,
or the illusion in external beauty?
Work to move past your limited views and perceptions.  
Cultivate your ability to see the beauty in all things. . . 
not simply joyful, happy and esthetically pleasing things,
but the dark, uncomfortable and traumatic things as well.


Vanity is not limited to our personal ideas of external beauty.  It is also our deeply connected to our ego. Anytime we are not our true selves, we succumb to vanity.  Anytime we try to portray ourselves as other, boast of our accomplishments, attach ourselves to praise, or even belittle ourselves – we are not being true to who we are.


The absence of vanity is the rising above our ego. It is humility.
Abandoning vanity is the recognition that everything IS NOT ABOUT US.
Abandoning vanity means we learn to not take things personally.
Cultivating an absence of vanity in our relationships requires us to stop competing, drop comparisons and listen to the good in what another is saying.
Abandoning vanity creates and nurtures space for love, compassion, sincerity and connectedness.


This week, notice the role vanity plays in your yoga practice.  Do you have to wear certain clothes to be comfortable?  Can you let go of comparisons to others or what you could do yesterday?  When you look in the mirrors, are you checking your alignment or how you look?  Observe what happens when you dislike a posture, a cue, or a song. . . realize this isn’t about “YOU”.


Yoga is about creating a deep connection to our true selves and seeing others for who they truly are – beyond vanity and illusion.