Unfolding on the Mat
Expanded Content and Thoughtful Guidance
Do you often wish you had a crystal ball? Do you want to know how things will end up? Are you sometimes impatient with times of transition, putting off being happy until some situation is resolved?
True confession: when I read murder mystery books I read the last page first. I want to know who's still there in the end!
Let's just call it what it is, shall we? It's a desire for CONTROL. Not having control over parts of our lives is SCARY!! We might want to hide until the hard stuff passes. We might avoid uncomfortable situations and conversations because we don't know how they will turn out.
This last year in my life has been full of uncertainty, tons of change, lots of sitting through uncomfortable waiting. I've come up against being out of control time and time again. Which is why I decided to read Pema Chodron's book, Comfortable with Uncertainty.
In it she begins to train us to be warriors--"not warriors who kill, but warriors of non-aggression who hear the cries of the world." Warriors who don't run away. Warriors who are brave enough to stay and be with what is.
The world needs us to stay the course with loving kindness.
We must remove our armor of defensiveness and engage with life wholeheartedly.
She challenges us to ask ourselves, "Do I prefer to grow up and relate to life directly, or do I choose to live and die in fear?"
What does Yoga say?
The three steps of Yoga in Action:
1) Study the situation and yourself to determine what is the best response. (Give yourself TIME to do this.) Figure out what you know, what you don't know, what the scriptures say about it, and what your past experience has taught you in similar situations.
2) Do the action that seems best, honest, simple, and clear. Remember--not taking action is still an action, and sometimes it's the best choice. You can decide to remain uncertain. That's still action, but it's not running away or avoiding--it's just staying and breathing.
3) Surrender the results of the action. Give it up to God. Let the Universe handle the rest. Release attachment and gripping to a certain outcome. Exhale.
I'm going to add a fourth step: Phone a friend. Talk about your uncertainty. Let them stand with you in the gap. I guarantee your friend has been uncertain and out of control at some point. These stories we share are how we bring our suffering to the world, and in doing so they lessen.
You'll know you have learned to be a warrior when you can sit with someone who is crying, and not try to fix it or fix them. You just listen.
You'll know you are a warrior when you learn to sit with the sick and dying.
You'll know you are a warrior when you engage with loving presence with the person experiencing homelessness.
You'll know you are a warrior when you see and hear the cries of the world, inhale their suffering, and exhale compassion for all. Then do the same for your neighbor.
May you realize you are a warrior, just by showing up with your whole self.
Jessica lives, has a family, and teaches yoga in Austin, Texas.