The ebb and flow of life is not always comfortable, especially with the sensitivities that a yoga practice instills in its’ practitioners. It seems the more time I spend on the mat the more there is to excavate and digest.
Over the last month I have faced great uncertainty in many areas of my life. Who hasn’t? The roads have been bumpy with a few unexpected turns and near collisions and through it all I had to work very hard at practicing what I teach: breath into the discomfort.
There is a book with the same title as this post written by Pema Chodron that I have not actually had the fortune of reading but I’ve seen it many times on the shelves of those near and dear to me that I turn to in times of strife. There must be something to its message.
New students often inquire about the ability to live a full life with the principles of Yoga, or Buddhism, or Christianity in mind. Is it possible to live by the golden rule and practice peaceful abiding in this modern age? Is it possible to observe all the sensations of this life without going mad from overstimulation? Can one actually run a business while paying it forward? Does any of it even matter?
These are not only great questions but important ones.
As teachers we work hard at instilling confidence in our students when it comes to breathing and exploring new postures. With the understanding of all the limbs of yoga a good teacher also works at clearing a pathway to the inner discoveries that can be truly transformational for a student… our challenge as both teachers and students is to remember that the road is not always clear, the answers are not always pleasant, the conversations with others can sometimes be quite scary, but that in the moment to moment a fulfilling life is not only possible but also extremely likely when we undertake it while cultivating truth removed from illusions.
One of the greatest illusions is that your teacher has all the answers. The other is that once on a spiritual path all the rest of life becomes roses and unicorns.
I say these things in hopes to lead to a very distinct point of view. As I have taught over the years, meditated, taken classes across the country, having read all the books I could get my hands on the only thing that is clear to me is that this life is not only precious, but unpredictable. The more comfortable we can get with this the better.
If I can forgive myself of knowing all the answers, of perfecting that handstand in an arbitrary timeframe, if I can approach all my relationships honestly and continue to expose my vulnerabilities and build trust, if I can have a little compassion for those that seek to erect walls and reach out to those in pain, if we could just breath a little deeper and surrender the notion that we have to have it all figured out…
If we can simply be present in our spectacularly complicated lives with a little faith that it will all work out, that we are strong enough and worthy enough of a well lived existence, if we can let go of those silly expectations and judgements of what life is supposed to be or what box everything is “supposed” to fit in, if we can just simply show up to the uncertainty of this life and breathe all the way down into our pinky toe if we have to to make it through then I think we are all gonna be just fine. Better than fine in fact.
For me, today at least, that is the definition of faith: being comfortable with the uncertainty.
We get great feedback from the unfolding of this life if we are willing to listen. As the road gets scary and all I want is a hug, as the mirror reveals things that are extraordinary and also things I very much want to change, as I unravel and cry and laugh and stand bereft there is still and always more to come. We can fight against it, run away from it, ignore, and try to barter with it and yet this life will continue to run its course. The sun always rises. So does the moon.
May you find joy and peace and serenity in the madness. Might you find comfort and my sweet sweet friends may you always remember that Love Wins!
This is our life. Our one and only. Who do you choose to be?!