I don’t about you but I am beginning to see a pattern. Generally speaking I tend to avoid pain, uncomfortable situations. I want comfortable, pleasurable, peaceful situations. Another part of me knows though that is not where the growth lies. Perhaps that is why I have appreciated strong yoga teachers because they would often encourage me to go farther than I thought I was able, farther than I would go on my own. This has helped me develop confidence is my own body and in other areas of my life. In life and in our practice we cannot rely on our teachers to move us along, we must look within for the awareness, the intelligence and the will to act.
What has really helped in my will to act has been the realization that: it is through some kind of suffering that I have grown the most. We don’t have to go out and look for suffering, life seems to present us with challenges. For example: I have been teaching yoga now for 20 years, studied anatomy, know the postures to help shoulders and have taught them for all that time. Now, for first time I have a shoulder related injury of my own, due they say to “age”. So, for the past year I have developed a new perspective of shoulders, that I could not have gotten any other way. No amount of book knowledge could give me what I know now through experience, such a gift, working from the inside out.
I would never have asked or hoped for the pain of a shoulder injury as a way to understand shoulders better. Since it is here though, the challenge is to work with and through this painful period with equanimity and compassion to see what it can teach.
Many postures that were once so easy, doing them was like floating down a calm river. Now, I do those postures with great care, like navigating through rough waters. I am constantly adjusting many postures with a heightened awareness. This has not diminished the effectiveness of my yoga practice to bring a stillness to the mind, on the contrary it seems to have developed an keener focus.
My message is one of encouragement to all those who think because of one injury or another that yoga will not be accessible or will have no point. Our working through our challenges in our yoga practice is a model for life’s other challenges. Can we face our difficulties with compassion, awareness, equanimity, intelligence and perhaps even gratitude and see them through?
This is the work of life, the joy in the journey!