Yoga Is Now
Over the years I’ve learned a lot of things by spending time on my mat. I’ve learned common sense things, like if I practice on a full stomach I’m gunna feel miserable the whole time. I’ve also learned some tough lessons, like if I ignore proper technique because it hurts or is hard, I will get hurt. I’ve also learned some profound things, like how I’m damn stronger than I give myself credit for. Today though. In this specific point in our world, I want to talk about a subtle lesson yoga has taught me. It’s something that we all know to be true but forget. Or that we know to be true but don’t believe until something HUGE happens.
Everything is temporary. Events, circumstances, feelings, thoughts, people, pets, homes, places, relationships, everything.
In the yoga sutras Patanjali tells us that ALL the things of this world (including ourselves) are transient. He says that only our souls and the Supreme are permanent. Patanjali was also a very diplomatic man so he said if you don’t believe in a spiritual presence, then know that you can chose to suffer or suffer less. Most of us are very familiar with how to use a God or religion to reconcile the heartache of disastrous events. So instead lets look to Patanjalis’s OR option. He says that we are suffering or experience discomfort, disease, sorrow; all because we are trying to make permanent what is not. Let’s take a look at a few examples. I have a friend that I knew since grade school. We were together well until adulthood. We grew up together, had many of the same experiences, but as we grew older, we grew apart. Our interests changed, maybe locations, and we were no longer the friends we once were. I can lament over the fact that I lost a friend, blame her for changing. I could hold other friends to the standard we were afforded when we were younger (time spent, shared interests, etc). I could fail to form new friendships because I am so heartbroken and I don’t want to open myself up to someone else who is just going to leave me.
Here is another example. I went on a vacation with my family when I was younger. We hiked in the mountains and came across a beautiful crystal clear stream that we were able to wade through. Later we ate at the most charming restaurant with THE BEST french toast and a gorgeous view. It’s truly one of the best times of my life and I think about it often. As an adult I decide to take my children so they can share my wonder. My daughter hates outdoors so she is incensed the entire time. The stream is now blocked so we can’t even get to it and although the restaurant is still there, I realize my 9 year old taste buds weren’t quite mature because this french toast is horrendous.
Do either of these sound familiar? In both instances, we have something we treasure. Something that maybe even we define as a core part of our identity, and that it’s what has made us who we are today. But when we cling to this ideal and we force it be permanent, we lose the opportunity to create new. New friendships or relationships, new experiences. We become addicts that are constantly searching for that thing that we thought made us happy. When in reality that friend always stole my lunch, and talked bad about me to others. And that vacation, I complained the whole time about the bugs and being wet and how the restaurant didn’t even have Dr. Pepper and it smelled weird. If we are constantly looking back or waiting for “the next best thing” we forget to look in the now. Yoga atha anusanam. And now yoga begins. Yoga only happens in THIS moment. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but now. And we can suffer by lamenting the past or yearning for the future, or we can suffer by being present and doing the difficult work. If I give the moment my full attention, eka tatva abhyasa, with one pointed focus, I can see it for what it really is. So when I do reflect back on what happened, I won’t have rose colored glasses, or unresolved heartache.
So to come back to everything is temporary. Right now you may be feeling elated, or heartbroken. You may be feeling alone our out of control. And that is OK. We will always have highs and lows. We will always have success and failures. But everything is temporary. I invite you to identify on 2 or 3 times you felt utterly crushed and defeated in your life. Then identify 2 or 3 times you felt on top of the world. How long did those feelings last? How high or low did they make you feel? And can you still feel that depth today? I'm sure you are so much more stronger and capable then you give yourself credit for. And if you don't believe it yet, get on your mat. Do the work, strengthen the now and take it one breath at a time. Watch how far you'll go.