Gift of HabitJanuary 4, 2013
6 Immune Boosting TipsJanuary 28, 2013
Heaven or Hell?
Figuratively speaking, have you ever made a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven? For instance, have you ever filled your hour-long yoga practice with worry, self-criticism, frustration or other harsh undertones? On the flip side, have you been in an extremely challenging-for-you posture and decided not to fight it, but to experience breath and sensations as proof of life? This can be especially “heavenly” if your typical response is to swear under your breath at the teacher for holding you in “hell” so long ;)
What meaning do you give to being able to hold steady in a balance posture? To keeping your mind quiet in Savasana? To the teacher suggesting Plank for longer than you’d like? If being able to hold Tree Pose perfectly steady for 30 seconds to a minute means you’re doing it “right” then every time you don’t, you’ll see yourself as doing it “wrong.” If a busy mind in Savasana means you “can’t meditate,” you may give up when you notice you’ve wandered rather than making your way back. If the teacher suggests Plank Pose and you think, “$#*@!”, you may end up disliking one or both of them and perhaps even deciding you’re “not strong enough.” There are many other meanings that can be made up on your mat from any posture, thought, sensation, comparison or combination of all. There of course are meanings made of being “better” than someone next to you or being “good at yoga” when you feel you’ve mastered a posture. Whether they seem “good” or “bad”, meanings can trap you into certain perspectives that you may end up playing out over and over again.
“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Check in on the meanings you’re making off your mat as well. When life isn’t flowing smoothly, your mind is racing and you’re being challenged to no end, you can choose to see it as hell or a definition of who you are if you wish. Other options may include seeing times like these as temporary set-backs or opportunities to slow down. Seeing it as an experience you’re going through is another choice. There are actually endless choices for meaning in any situation. The lyrics below remind me of this.
And when the rain falls down you know the flower’s gonna bloom. And when the hard times come you know the teacher’s in the room. ~Michael Franti, “Have a Little Faith”
Whatever seems to happen to you in life, you are the artist. You decide what it means for you or what you make of it. Your yoga practice can be a work of art even if you fall on your asana every time you attempt to balance. Your meditation practice can be a harmony of thoughts and silence. Plank Pose can be an exploration of the colours and sounds you can create and the teacher is there with you through the challenge, offering options and support. Your whole practice can be beautiful. It may simply be hiding under the tension created by “trying to get it right.”
As usual, the practice on your mat radiates out into your life and vice versa. The toughest situation you’ve encountered can become your greatest masterpiece. Hell can become a heaven if you so choose. How much work that takes is also up to you. Someone’s opinion of you can be a defining factor or simply their opinion. Even your own opinion of yourself can be rearranged. The “teacher in the room” during struggles (on and off the mat) can be the struggle itself, the other/s involved, yourself, all of it. You can choose to see any “teachers” as angels or devils, as causing your struggle or being there to support your growth. Oh, the duality!