If we are to do any justice introducing and exploring the yoga of becoming, it's important to get our definitions sorted out. We begin with yoga — a deeply misunderstood, misinterpreted, and watered-down practice.
🧘 Exploring Yoga
“Self-realization is the knowing in all parts of body, mind, and soul that you are now in possession of the kingdom of God; that you do not have to pray that it come to you; that God’s omnipresence is your omnipresence; and that all that you need to do is improve your knowing.” ― Paramahansa Yogananda
Yoga is the Science of Self-Realization.
It's as simple as that. It is a comprehensive bio-psycho-spiritual process of personal evolution, where following the techniques and teachings (Scientific Method) inevitably lead you to the conclusions (Self-Realization).
Though this is a specific kind of Self-Realization. This is the realization of your True Self, your All Self. In yogic terms, yoga is the process of union, of joining together your small Self (Atman) with your all Self (Brahman). Yoga is a collection of practices and individual Ways of Being that lead you to the realization that You Are It. You are Everything. You are the All Self — that which does all things.
Tat Tvam Asi : Thou Art That.
I will have an entire piece exploring the art and science of yoga as a path for Self-Realization in the future. For the purposes of this essay, we will establish yoga as:
- A comprehensive set of bio-psycho-spiritual practices.
- Aimed at the union of the internal (Atman) and external (Brahman) worlds.
🌱 Exploring Becoming
"Being influences doing. Doing in turn is conditioning us. Doing affects how we are changing and becoming. Becoming is in turn changing the integrated state of who we are – being. Being, doing, and becoming are equally fundamental, inseparable, and inter affecting, in a ring. The cycle can be vicious or virtuous. Everything that is meaningful is one of these three. Engaging in all three consciously as a virtuous cycle leads to a maximally meaningful life. All three are ultimately inspired by love." — Daniel Schmachtenberger
If we are to take a very simple equation for the process of Becoming, it would be:
Becoming = Capacity for Being x Capacity for Doing.
The more you increase your capacity in the Being-mode, and the more you increase your capacity in the Doing-mode, the more you have increased your capacity for Becoming.
Your capacity for the Being-mode is inherently an internal, psycho-spiritual process.
The realm of the Being mode is internal to you and is not affected by external circumstances or variables. It is entirely intangible, outside the domain of physical matter, and largely revolves around your perceptions, your intentions, and your presence with Reality As-It-Is.
We have spoken about Maslow's Hierarchy in previous essays and raised some disagreements, though in examining peak states Maslow also created what he coined 'B-Values' or Being-Values that I deeply appreciate, these include:
- Truth, Goodness, Beauty, Wholeness, Aliveness, Uniqueness, Perfection, Completion, Justice, Simplicity, Richness, Effortlessness Playfulness, Self-sufficiency.
Increasing your capacity for the Being-mode involves increasing your capacities in these B-Values.
These do not require external involvement, and will influence all of your actions in the world. The Being-Mode is the seed that actions in the world grow from. These are the sources of actions in the world, and you should strive to have your actions deeply embody and enact these values.
Your capacity for the doing-mode is inherently an external, physical process in nature.
The realm of the Doing-Mode is external to you, it revolves around how you show up in the world, the actions you take, the effects you are able to have, and your overall agency and capacity to make things happen in the world.
Embodiments of the Doing-Mode are ways that you add to the world, whereas the Being-Mode is how you appreciate or exist within the world as it is. Doing-Mode embodiments can look like:
- Parenting, Teaching, Communicating, Creating, Building, Listening, Writing, Moving, Playing, Loving, Supporting, and Maintaining.
There are many more. Now you'll notice that these are verbs — they are active actions. Action is the domain of the Doing-Mode.
⚡️ The Yoga of Becoming
“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” ― E. B. White
- Yoga is a comprehensive science of bio-psycho-spiritual practices aimed at merging and unifying the internal and external world.
- Becoming is the product of one's abilities and capacities in the Being-Mode (internal) and the Doing-Mode (external).
The yoga of becoming is the art and science of identifying, enacting, and embodying the set of bio-psycho-spiritual practices needed to unify and evolve one's internal world and external world.
It's the seamless movement between internal embodiment and external expression. An ability, a sacred practice, of identifying the next steps, taking them, testing them, and normalizing them.
This sequence of identification and action creates a fluid, DNA double-helix like dance between the inner and outer worlds. Using the engagement in each one as a capacity-building mechanism for the other.
To best understand this, it's helpful to look at some examples:
- The Incapable Activist: There are many activists, dreamers, believers, and spiritual practitioners today rooted in strong and beautiful B-Values, but have little to no capacity whatsoever to effect the world. They are unrefined in the Doing-Mode.
- The Empty Entrepreneur: There are equally as many highly capable performers in the world right now who embody next to no significant B-Values, and their actions are based solely on selfish ends, extraction, fear, or separation. They are unrefined in the Being-Mode.
- Everywhere Inbetween: This is a spectrum, there are individuals at every inch. Some individuals are more refined in Being-Values, while others are generally more refined in Doing-Activities.
The yoga of becoming is this process of personal evolution, of identifying unrefined areas within yourself, and perfectly mapping them to the appropriate bio-psycho-spiritual practices to steward and evolve them.
When we refer to bio-psycho-spiritual practices, this means biological (physical) practices, psychological (mental) practices, or spiritual practices.
The reason we use yoga (a sacred, individual, devotional practice) as a framework here is because it a comprehensive science, mapping various techniques to the evolution of an individual.
For example, there is of course the asana (posture) practice, largely physical in nature. For an individual adept in this area, they might then move on to the yamas and niyamas (ethics and adherences) as a psychological practices. Beyond that, an individual might then practice ishvarapranidhana – the surrender and trust of one's life to the world/God, as a form of spiritual practice.
Yoga as a framework for becoming provides a pedagogical (grows with you) progression for personal evolution.
The practice is in learning to identify unrefined areas, find the appropriate techniques to address them, commit to the practice, and exemplify it in the world.
The unifying ideal of yoga here is also an important point:
You only truly identify what inner work is needed by engaging deeply in the external world. Your engagement with the external world will surface latent blocks/traumas/unrefined aspects of your Being.
Like the Daoist yin-yang, the opposites inform each other. They co-create each other.
They are the best way to quickly identify what has worked and what needs more work. Many spiritual practitioners meditate for ages, only to realize that they still get into fights with their family during the holidays. Alternatively, many business-people put their work achievements above all else, only realizing too late that they were running in circles trying to justify their worth all along.
Let's explore some additional examples:
- The Psychedelic Panacea: Individuals who think all they need to do is more LSD, and everything will sort itself out. It's likely that they would be better served spending more time in the Doing-Mode, really embodying the B-Values and experiences they have in the psychedelic experience. Finding more aligned income, making creative works, or deeper engagement with the external world is likely called for — though they are imbalanced and only focusing on the inner world and mystical experiences.
- The Narcisstic Bodybuilder: Individuals who are deeply engaged with the external world as an escape from their inner world. Instead of building a beautiful body, hoping that it will help them feel better about themselves, they should be engaging in self-love practices, gratitude journalling, deeper communication and connection with loved ones.
Another way to say this is that you will never solve an inner-world imbalance through the external world. You will never compensate for an external-world imbalance by refining the inner-world values.
🔮 Identifying With Becoming
"Do I contradict myself? Very well then. I am large, I contain multitudes." — Walt Whitman
An important point is that this process is in no way straightforward, though you may begin to see how powerful this practice can become. You can find yourself in a virtuous cycle, evolving at incredibly rapid rates. You can also see how this can become a viscious cycle, rapidly obliterating your engagement in the world and your internal wellbeing.
As with any of these practices, this puts you on the path of identity-level transformation. For the body-builder example, beginning this work would actually require that they admit that they don't currently like themselves as much as they would wish. For the psychedelic escape artists, it would be admitting that they don't like the world they live in, the experience they have, and they want to escape from it.
These are not easy to admit, and it becomes infinitely harder if you are persistent and stubborn in clinging to old identites because you will resist and fight the process of evolution. This is why people stagnate, particulary when afflicted by mental illness.
"I'm the person suffering from anxiety." "I've always been able to lift the most in my friend group." These rigid identities keep you stuck, imprisoned to outdated models of self that eventually become harmful rather than helpful.
This is why it's best to rest your center of identity as that which is constantly becoming.
Not clinging to any particular identity or label. Allowing them when they arise (acceptance of Being), but not clinging to them if their time has passed (accepting of Doing/Change).
Revisting Death/Rebirth practices is important here, as the ritual revisitations and practice of death/rebirth experiences help keep you free to rapidly embody new identities, as old identities are continually dying and being burnt off.
In becoming comfortable with the discomfort of no longer having the comfort and safety of labels and identities (something you learn through yoga asana practice) you are free to move as quickly, as intensely as you want, no longer burdened by outdated models of self.
In the future post, we will go into specific practices to help cultivate core Being-Values and Doing-Capacities.
However, what's important here is that you are able to steward your own experience — take some time now to identify which area (inner or outer) you are more refined in, and identify practices that would help you cultivate the other . Test this in the world after you have built the skill, and happy evolving.
Next week we will be exploring a critical sub-component of the Yoga of Becoming: Hedonic Engineering. 🧬