Burn the Boats

I am finishing Bhava Ram’s book, Warrior Pose, the story about how yoga literally saved his life.  For those of you who are not familiar, Bhava was a top foreign correspondent for NBC when he suffered a broken back, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and was given less than 2 years to live. When traditional medicine could not heal him, he turned in desperation to Yoga, which saved his life.

A yoga novice, Bhava continually battled his rational reporter mind against the hope yoga gave to him. Regardless of his doubts, he states,” I am in it all the way, I am not turning back.”

I am struck by the power of this mindset. When your life is threatened, you tend to do things that you might not do otherwise.  But should we wait for desperation to take risks? When you want to accomplish ANYTHING, leaving the back door open tends to reduce the chances of success.  Take that a step further.  Every time you let go of an opportunity to grow, you die a little death.  Embracing a philosophy of no turning back means that you must move forward.  The path may change; the result may be nothing that you expected, but you continue to grow. Essentially, you continue to embrace life.

I like to think of this as the Burn the Boats or Burn the Bridges strategy.

In 334 BC, Alexander the Great (my namesake) invaded Persia. His army was outnumbered 10 to 1.  When his army landed on the shores of Persia he ordered, “Burn the Boats.”  His army had no option for retreat, win or die.

There’s been many times in my life when I had the best intentions to make a change; however, I left the back door open, just in case.  The instant I failed to commit completely, I sabotaged the endeavor. Change is hard. Staying is easy. With the back door open, our rational mind will find all sorts of ways to pull us off course and challenge our resolve.

When you make that total commitment, when you Burn your Bridges, the universe shows up to support you in one way or another.

Often times, it is hardest to stay committed when the changes are not life threatening. Resolve diminishes. Doubt creeps in. Our rational mind challenges our faith. Friends and family question our choices.

Without the decision to Burn the Boats, how do you stay the course?

Today let’s practice.  Make a commitment to some piece of your practice that you are going to embrace no matter what I throw at you.  Whether it’s maintaining a smooth and even breath, freeing yourself from the chains of ego, or standing courageously in the face of fear, just commit.

Can you be all in?

Let’s give it a try.


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