Viveka is the capacity to make distinctions. It is our discernment, our ability to perceive what is happening within us and differentiate it from what is happening around us. It's our ability to know the difference between an intuitive decision and a rational one.
Khyaatih is insight or understanding.
I bring up these two words because I experienced them this week. I went back to see my teacher, Eddie Stern, after a year of not practicing with him. I did not know what to expect as I had fallen off the planet. I was slightly scared to walk in. This past year was a bit of a life changing whirlwind. Since September of last year I ended a marriage, went to India, moved, applied for a green card, lead my first retreat, found out my dad has cancer, feel in love and all the while kept a full hearted commitment to a 5 day a week mysore program - I know this is nothing to a lot of you that have a family, and a gazibillion other things going on, but in my humble little world, it required a lot of energy. What kind of lost it's prime spot was my personal asana practice. I kept at it, 6 sometimes 5 days a week, but on my own, fast, and as the least important thing on my list. I gave it the least importance, and the least attention. Everything else seemed to require so much of me, and it felt important to give it the energy, so practice naturally took a backseat.
When I stepped into my teacher's studio on Wednesday I began to cry. At first I could not understand why this was happening, but it was, so I just let it be and set my mat down to begin practice. The emotion passed, and I let it go.
The viveka moment here lies in what I discovered by going back to study under the guidance of my teacher, choosing to prioritize the moment of practice and the sacred magic that happens in the connection student- teacher…I realized the mistaken interpretation of lack of energy for practice as a lack of love, or interest. I mistakingly assumed that maybe this practice was too intense for me, that perhaps it’s not the only way, that perhaps it’s more important to live then to be on a mat. While all this may be true, and well worth taking into consideration, it was not the truth. It was a misperception, a mistaken interpretation of the truth, due to lack of seeing the truth.
Going back to my teacher, there was understanding and insight into what had really happened. I was able to make the distinction - viveka- between lack of love/interest/commitment and needing to prioritize for survival. The practice didn’t take a back seat, it served as a selfless supporter. All it took to see this was going back to the beginning.
…And so I leave you with this. Life is a circle, or perhaps many little circles within a big circle. Everything always circles back, and we always have an unplanned, unasked for opportunity to tie back to the beginning and relive something we originally misinterpreted due to a lack of proper Viveka - capacity to make distinctions- and Khyaatih - insight or understanding.
In Ayurveda they say that each situation or thing in life is made up of 3 stages:
a Kapha stage - beginning, stabilizing, grounding, steady, solid, smooth, soft;
a Pitta stage - middle, transformative, hot, spicy, moving, spreading, sharp;
a Vata stage - end, cold, mobile, clear, dry, fragile, light, rough.
Once a cycle is completed it begins again, without interruption, because one falls into another through major junctions, or transition moments in our lives. Our duty is to put in the work so that we can keep our discernment accurate enough to be able to differentiate and understand what is happening to us at any given time. And to trust that it will circle back.