I fully intended to write a positive and uplifting post about my introduction to and subsequent infatuation with yoga, but just as yoga isn’t all bendiness and enlightenment, life isn’t all peaches and cream. Lately, it’s been full of grief and heartache, betrayal and rejection. Don’t get me wrong. On the whole, I have a beautiful life, and I’m grateful for what I have. But all those positives are sometimes difficult to remember when jarring and unwanted negativity comes creeping in.
Lately, it appears that just when things are going smoothly, something seemingly catastrophic comes barging in to rain on my parade. Am I being overdramatic? Perhaps. However, I have some pretty reliable and ancient sources backing me on the whole suffering thing.
The First Noble Truth of Buddhism is that life is dukkha, or suffering. Inevitably, somewhere along life’s paths, we all encounter something that causes us pain. This would be a pretty dreary philosophy if not for the understanding that dukkha is caused merely by attachment, and that man can break free from that attachment. We can take a page from Eckhart Tolle’s book(s) and view suffering as a path to the destruction of the ego. Or, we can go all sports psychology and insist that pain is weakness leaving the body. Either way, there are methods for relieving suffering, and this is a good thing.
That’s where yoga comes in. Yoga’s focus on breathing, presence, and
acceptance can go a long way towards alleviating suffering and kick starting the grieving process. For the past few days, I have craved time on my mat, and I’ve let yoga be both an escape and a release, a place to forget and a place to remember. Other than the love of my husband and children, it’s been the only thing that has helped ease what has sometimes seemed like a mountain of emotional pain. I’ve focused on gentle backbends (Bridge, Cobra, Locust), anything that will open my heart and lead towards acceptance, and hopefully, eventually, healing. As I settled into Savasana in my most recent practice, I truly focused in on being supported by the earth, of knowing that I’m in good hands, both physically and spiritually. I breathed and let go. And suddenly, life was good again.
I’ve recently discovered the writings of Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, and her philosophies about the ups and downs of life make a whole lot of sense to me. In essence, she states in order to fully embrace the positive aspects of ourselves, we must also recognize the negative. On the same token, if we are to appreciate the goodness in our lives, we must acknowledge the bad as well. These may seem like “well duh” statements, but they’re incredibly difficult to apply to daily life. We all want to increase the positive and decrease the negative, even to the point of desiring perfection. I’ve experienced this same longing for perfection recently, saying to myself, “If only this or that wouldn’t happen, then my life would be perfect.” Really? Is my happiness really dependent on perfection? If so, I’ve got a whole lot of unhappiness coming my way. And if I did somehow miraculously achieve perfection, would I really want it? Probably not. I have the sneaking suspicion that perfection is boring…