The First Step to Happiness: Commitment
For any type of yoga, the most important indicator of success is the ability to commit to a daily practice. In Kundalini Yoga teacher training, we learn that in life, the first step to happiness is commitment.
With commitment, all things are possible. Without it, nothing is possible. My teacher Yogi Bhajan said it simply: “Life without commitment is like a flower without fragrance. Life without commitment is like a moon without light.”
Even the word “commitment” is revealing. It comes from the Latin “com” and “mittere” which literally means, “to put together”. When you have commitment, you put it all together.
So if commitment is so great, why isn’t everyone doing it?
The fear to commit comes from the mistaken belief that when we commit we lose our ability to choose something better.
In reality, until we commit we have chosen nothing and we have nothing. Non-commitment preserves only the illusion of choice without any reward.
From the very beginnings of yoga, the ability to commit was paramount to success. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali of nearly 2000 years ago, it was written:
“This practice of Yoga is built, with devotion and commitment, over a lengthy time period.” (I, 14)
The good news is that you can achieve commitment in your yoga practice on the very first day you decide to do it. And when you do commit, you feel a sense of both relief and happiness.
So what are the requirements to have a committed yoga practice, or a committed relationship or a committed “anything” in your life?
The Yoga Sutras outline five personal commitments that are necessary to achieve success and mastery in yoga or in any endeavor:
- Shraddha – Trust and confidence
- Virya – Energy and willpower
- Smriti – Intention and mindfulness
- Samadhi – Oneness and absorption
- Prajna – Wisdom and discernment
Shraddha is a trust in yourself that you are moving in the right direction. It is a feeling of confidence in your intuition to guide you.
Virya is the positive energy that comes from exercising your willpower. When you make the choice to move forward on your path, virya is the conviction that brings the power and strength to your commitment.
Smriti is maintaining a constant state of mindfulness about your choice and commitment. As you walk the path, it is holding on to your original intention behind your commitment, being a witness to your progress and mindful of the process.
Samadhi is remembering the Oneness behind your commitment and being absorbed in that union. It is allowing the commitment and the committer to become one and the same. The commitment then ceases being something you trying to do and becomes who you are.
Prajna is the wisdom of your Higher Self that comes from discrimination, meditation and self-study. The more you understand the nature of your own self, the easier it is to hold to your commitment.
Remember that mastery and commitment begin in steps. The steps can be small and modest at first.
The only requirement is that you remain absolutely consistent and constant in your commitment, regardless of the step you take.
If you commit to doing yoga twice a week, it is always twice a week.
Realize that life will always challenge you whenever you make a commitment. Without a test, the commitment cannot become strong.
Watch when your commitment is challenged. It will tell you a lot about yourself and the ways you self-sabotage. Sick? Too busy? No money? Not in love anymore? Who cares?
In the face of commitment, all excuses are self-abuses.
Compared to many things in life, a yoga practice is an easy commitment. Its rewards are immediate, rich and continuous.
Whether you chose to commit to a daily personal practice of the great journey of Kundalini Yoga teacher training, remember that commitment is the first step to happiness.
“In every life you are meant to commit. That is why the word is commit-meant.” – Yogi Bhajan