Finding a way
Life is pretty manageable when things are going our way. But what happens when things don’t? When you find yourself face to face with fear, anger, maybe heart aching sadness. These emotions are powerful. They can knock the strongest individual way off course. And once off course, momentum makes it much easier to allow the emotions to spin out of control. Even the most experienced of yogis will find it hard to let go of the wave of emotions and to draw back to center, back to a more peaceful place. As yogis, we aren’t free of hardships or challenges, if anything, sometimes we are all too aware of it. So then, amidst the difficulties of life and the strong emotional current that can pull us away, how do we return back to a more calm and peaceful way of being? This is the real yoga. This is what I am still trying to learn and practice.
In the yoga sutras, Patanjali introduces the idea of Pratipaksha Bhavana:
Sutra 1.33 “When presented with disquieting thoughts or feelings, cultivate an opposite, elevated attitude.”
I have to share that Angie Deboise spoke of this in one of her classes, which is where I learned of it myself. And so this last week, I had one of those ‘spinning out of control’ moments. I couldn’t seem to get out of my head. The observer in me was tired of observing and tired of the effort required to pull myself out. Instead, I took the easier route. I gave into the momentum and wallowed in the wave of my emotions for some time. And then I remembered what Angie had shared in class. When faced with difficulty, begin to cultivate the opposite thoughts or feelings. So I put my thoughts on hold for just a moment to begin thinking about my beautiful little girls and how much and how unconditionally I love them. And amazingly, for moments at a time, the intensity of my other emotions softened. They of course came back, but then again I thought about my girls, their sweet smiles and their loving embraces. This continued for a while, but each time my heart softened a little more. I won’t say that this in any way helped me to resolve my issues, but it did help me to soften away from the story line. And slowly I was able to come back to a more open space within, from which I could begin to observe again. I could let go of the intensity of difficult emotions and find a state of being at peace with my circumstance. I had no answers or solutions, but I was able to find my center, my breath, my gratitude. And I connected back to the faith that allows me to know that all experience, both bitter and sweet, is to be embraced and to be lived from the heart.
(With special thanks to Angie DeBoise for sharing her beautiful & inspiring teachings.)