Once we have allowed the world to be the way it already is, [1] our next practice is to observe it – simply watch. Watching does not have to be done with the eyes: listen: feel. Observe what is happening in any way you can – but really notice what is happening.

So often we assume we know what is going on; we don’t really, but we think we do. We note quickly what is happening, think we have it all figured out, and then move our attention somewhere else. Really watching is hard work. It requires a commitment to remain present and really look at what is going on.

Cultivate a sense of curiosity. Imagine you are a cat waiting by a mouse hole. Don’t let your attention waiver for even one second. Watch for the mouse. When a mouse appears, because we are yogi cats and vegetarians, we let the mouse go and wait for the next one.

When we really watch what is happening, we start to notice things we never saw before. In your Yin Yoga practice, begin to pay more attention to the sensations you are experiencing. Where exactly is the sensation? Ask yourself questions. Is it moving or constant? Does it come and go? Provide one- or two-word labels for the sensations. Is it hot or cool? Is it dull, or achy, or sharp, or piercing? The more you watch closely, the more you will see – the better you will be able to describe exactly what you are experiencing. The more you watch, the more you will notice that you really didn’t know what was happening at all! You have been living your life blind.

Watching by listening can be a complete meditation all on its own. Many monks prefer this mode of meditating; they become quite accomplished at detecting very subtle nuances of noises. You may choose to do this as part of your practice as well. As you hold a yoga pose, or sit in meditation, allow the sounds around you to come to you. This too is the essence of yin. There is no need to chase after the sounds – they come to you. There is no need to do anything about them. You don’t have to judge them as nice or irritating: all you do is allow them to come and listen to them. You become a yinster.

When fears, or anxieties, or other challenges in life present themselves to you, allow them to come and watch them as you have practiced. Notice what exactly the challenge or fear or anxiety consists of. Don’t judge it as good or bad. Just notice what is happening. The more information we have about a situation, the more skillfully we can make choices. Then the time may come to take an action, if that is appropriate.

  1. — And that includes allowing ourselves to be the way we already are.

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