Thursday, November 20, 2014

Just be in it

The other night I attended a yoga class – the first I’ve been to in a while. You’d think being a yoga instructor I’d be class all the time but I often spend more time taking care of everyone else over myself. Now that I don’t have a lot of free time to dedicate to my practice I really cherish every moment. I listen to what the teacher has to say and I enjoy every moment on my mat. My instructor was teaching back bends amidst a complex flow and midway through the class she said something that has stuck with me. “Don’t fight it, just be in it.”

Stop fighting it. I’ve been applying these words to my life off the mat currently although it’s not easy. When I think back on how I arrived at my current position in life the process of standing in what’s difficult has been all that’s ever gotten my through. When I arrived in Denver in May 2005 my life was a mess. A few months prior the guy I had been dating for two years broke up with me – a humbling experience everyone should live through at least once. Not soon after my breakup I was fired from my job – another life lesson I believe a person needs to go through - which was complicated by the fact I’d just leased an apartment. When I lost these things I had nothing left to loose which opened me up to the opportunity to go to flight attendant training in Salt Lake City. The day I was leaving for training a dump truck driver re-ended me at a red light and my recently purchased vehicle was totaled (this is not a life changing event I recommend). What I thought was important at the age of 25 were things that could all be replaced and by losing what I had I was open to gaining so much more.

By the time I had lost my job I had stopped fighting which made losing my car and then leaving my whole life in Alabama behind easier. I was no longer trying to swim upstream and against the currents of the universe I was letting it take me where it may and trusting I wouldn’t drown. Not fighting doesn’t mean you are apathetic – indeed it’s the complete opposite. Being in the situations life gives you instead of running from or numbing the experience gives one total clarity. In yoga when you stand in a pose instead of fighting the pose you start to transcend the asana. You start to allow yourself to feel the tightness of your hip flexors or the pain in the arches of your feet and the freedom of your chest cracking wide open. You don’t let go, you let what’s happening take place and realize the sensation won’t be forever. Ever have a cavity filled at the dentist? Where you wanted to jump out of the chair and run but you knew you couldn’t because the place where there was decay wouldn’t be filled? So you sit still and wait until you’re free again knowing the pain of not going through the journey would be a lot worse than what you’re currently enduring.

In trying to live my yoga every day I’ve realized there are a lot of aspects in my life lately where I’ve had to just be in it and stop fighting. Friendships have dissolved because I’ve stopped fighting with the belief that friendships should be easy. I have one friend I haven’t seen since Charlotte was six weeks old and yet we talk on the phone all the time like there’s no distance between us. Another has offered unwavering support based on the fact that there’s nothing I can do in her eyes that’s so awful we couldn’t be friends. Work is work and life is work so friendships should add to the quality of your existence. I stand in my relationships and I’m learning to stop fighting people because there’s no benefit to this. On my mat when I fight to stay in a pose I usually end up hurt but when I move with grace I can open to it.

Everything I thought I had lost when I moved to Denver came back to me in a new form. What I had before I struggled to have and I fought to keep. When this happens, the universe knows we are only harming ourselves and seems to step in and do the work for us. I have started to think of my life in the abstract terms of standing on the bow of a ship. Sometimes the water is smooth and the skies are clear and the sun warms me and I’m comfortable. Other times there’s hurricane force winds and waves and water trying to knock me down. If I let go, I’ll fall overboard and drown but if I stand in the seat of uncomfortable I’ll soon be free. As my yoga teacher reminded me during my practice, it’s better to stop struggling and see what happens then abandon hope all together. Let me tell you it isn’t easy to stand on the bow of that ship….but that’s where the best views are along the way.

danurasana - a pose dedicated to letting go of the struggle and being free

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