Acceptance as Practice: Reflections from Rolf Gates
Rolf Gates, one of the leading voices of contemporary yoga in the West, is the author of two acclaimed companion-to-practice books: Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga and Meditations on Intention and Being: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga, Mindfulness, and Compassion.
A former addictions counselor and U.S. Airborne Ranger who has practiced meditation for more than 25 years, Rolf has a uniquely approachable way of capturing the essence of being human in both his teaching and writing.
Paging through the 365 insightful reflections—one for each day—that he offers in Meditations on Intention and Being is a joyful practice unto itself. One is naturally struck by the echoes of truth in all of them.
These three reflections provide a taste of both the book’s design and the invitation for contemplation Rolf is known for.
Day 30: Mountain Life
Beneath our feet lies an infinity of paths. The power of mountain pose is that how we stand in it defines the path we will take and the sort of traveler we will be.
The mind attempts to create a certainty about our travels, but there is none.
Each time we find our mountain we choose our path forward. Each time we find our mountain we choose what kind of traveler we will be. And we cannot choose for tomorrow; we can choose only for this moment, this body, this breath.
Day 71: The Block
Einstein wrote that humanity lives imprisoned by a mind-state sense of separation, and that to free ourselves from this prison we must widen the circle of our wisdom and compassion to embrace all of humanity and the natural world.
Yoga can be understood as a plan for such a widening.
To be practiced properly, every aspect of yoga must be understood in this light. Satya—“truthfulness” or “honesty”—is the second of the five yamas. It begins with our ability to reflect honestly on our own inner life and our own felt experience.
For many of us, our first moment of satya is when we choose a modification in a yoga pose. The pointlessness and the discomfort of trying to get into a pose that is not appropriate for our body becomes apparent to us.
We pick up the block we have held in contempt and find a more accessible and more productive version of the pose. By being honest about our experience of the pose we find that doing a little less allows us to accomplish a lot more.
From the very beginning honesty is something we practice from the inside out.
Day 270: Being Right or Being Wise
I was taught that there are no straight lines in nature. That straight lines only exist in our mind. One of the straight lines our mind tries to draw is the one that connects our thoughts and our actions to being right.
It is one of our most cherished delusions that we are right all the time.
We are so attached to this delusion that we react strongly to anything that threatens it. But often what we are rejecting is the very information we need in order to find happiness. The irony of this situation is not lost on anyone who has ever tried to help another human being.
The practice of yoga is a safeguard against the habit of the mind to see only what it wants to see. What I am finding is that this sort of suffering reminds me that I can be right or I can be happy, that I can be right or I can be wise.