Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Commitment: Revere It or Fear It?

It's funny that the same word that describes the decision to remain in a relationship with another human being (i.e. marriage) also describes the act of putting someone in a mental institution: commitment.

That says a lot about our society and how we feel about living up to our word.

Commitment gets a bad rap. And I will spend the following paragraphs describing the ways that commitment has saved me—not enslaved me. 


Obviously, not all commitments are created equal. 

Committing yourself to beat your head against a wall each day will provide different results than getting up every morning before sunrise and meditating. 

So much of my past "commitment" was of the beating-my-head-against-a-wall variety. 

Simply put, there are promoting and demoting habits. What we do each day creates our habits. And our habits create our life. 

Meditation is so amazing because it can break us of our habits. But the habit to meditate has to become stronger than the habit to beat our head against a wall. Otherwise, our head beating muscles are going to grow a lot stronger than our meditation muscles. 


Sadhana is body-sculpting for the mind, enhancing circulation to the soul. It is a spiritual practice done every day without exception.

My first "sadhana" was a Kundalini Yoga meditation called "Kriya for Liberation." 

I committed to do it for 40 days. 

In many traditions, not just Kundalini Yoga, 40 days is considered the minimum amount of time to break a habit.

If you want to quit smoking... commit to 40 days of substituting cigarettes for some deep breathing.
If you want to start playing guitar... commit to 40 days of practice.

My first sadhana broke me of the habit of returning to the same dead-end relationship I kept involving myself in (i.e. beating my head against a wall). 

You know when you finally say "no" to that lurking temptation, and say "yes" to your own sanity? 

Yeah, it felt that good! 


It wasn't until I experienced it for myself that I really understood the power of commitment. 

Sure, this kriya was "robbing" me of 11 minutes of my personal time each day. Sure, I could have done something spontaneous and awesome instead.

Would I have done something spontaneous and awesome though? I'm not so sure.

I waste a lot of time in my days... spontaneously checking email, awesomely checking my news feed on facebook.

And given the results, even if my other options had been...
-rock climbing for 11 minutes
-collecting berries in the forest for 11 minutes
-learning to speak Urdu for 11 minutes
... I would choose the kriya again and again.


I'm not sure about you, but here's the dialog I used to have with my mind about sadhana:
Me: "I'm going to do my sadhana now."
Mind: "Really? Wouldn't you rather start a movie on netflix?"
Me: "Yes, but I committed to doing this sadhana."
Mind: "Wouldn't you rather bake a cake?"
Me: "Yes, but I committed to doing this sadhana."
Mind: "Gosh, this is really taking over your life."
And the irony here is, if we are having this internal conversation, it's not the sadhana, by the mind that has taken over our life! 

My mind still takes the reigns to my life a lot of the time. 

Having no responsibilities—to others or to myself—is not the definition of freedom, or a heightened state of being.

No more is having a month-to-month lease (or nowhere to live) somehow superior to owning a home. Acquiring and maintaining responsibility is a facet of becoming an adult on this planet. 

Freedom is an innate quality of the human spirit. 

It is our relationship to the commitments we've made and the responsibilities we've taken on that define our state of freedom. 

When we commit to nothing so we are able to live "in the moment" at all moments, we are surrendering to the whims of our mind. 


Hooray! If someone asked me to move to Africa RIGHT NOW I could go... because I don't have a job, a home, or a family!

Yay! Huh?

I know a lot of midlife crises happen because people get to a point in their life where they have taken on so many responsibilities they can barely breathe. 

But it's not the making commitments that traps us. It's the fact that we don't simultaneously forge a relationship to our own soul. 

We are just as free in a field of wheat wearing a flow-y dress, as we are in our own living room. 

Trapped is when we lose all connection to what's real and define our "self" by the things we've acquired, the bills we need to pay, the trophies we've won, and the job we perform.

That's not who we are!

We are limitless, free, playful, divine beings having this human experience. Let's not take this too seriously, shall we?

Buying a sport's car and having an affair with a supermodel isn't going to change the fact that we have no connection to the truth of our existence—our Sat Naam. 

Unless we can find the freedom inside—with a spiritual practice—we will never find it. 


Perhaps the most epic commitment I've made recently is getting married. 

Marriage was never something I took lightly. My parents have been married for over 35 years and I've seen them go through everything together. I know it's work. 

I also know that it is the best decision I ever made.

Many people feel that committing to one person for their entire life is an unreasonable idea. 

I can't really speak to that, because I don't feel that way. I'm sure there are some people who would do better not to be married. I know I am not one of them.

On the day I said "yes" to my husband's proposal, I knew I had made the right choice. 

We had a very difficult time adjusting to each other's life rhythms at first. We had never lived together and it was very rough coming to agreements on very basic things like how to decorate, how to clean, etc.

Each time I felt myself doubting my decision, wanting to throw in the proverbial towel, I had to catch myself. I had to remember that there was a reason I made this commitment. 

I had to retrain my habit of leaving when things get hard. When things get hard is the perfect time to delve deeper and face them. 

Eventually, the friction in our daily life subsided, and I am so glad we both had the strength to stick around and work it out.

I'm sure there will be other moments in our lives when things will get uncomfortable and challenging. 

But if we can maintain our sadhana, I know we will be the stronger for it. 

Blessings in all you commit to.

Choose wisely.



  1. rotfl lmfo. Never seen commitment + marriage + mental institutions used in the same sentence before. Brilliant. (big smile)

  2. Thanks! Sorry it took me so long to "approve" your comments. For some reason I didn't see that I had any until now. Thanks for all the thoughtful feedback.


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