Monday, November 9, 2009
Not an Escape
Something unique happens when we come to the yoga studio. We close the door behind us, shutting the noisy world outside. We remove the dirt and insulation of our well-worn shoes, forgetting for a moment the path we trod to arrive. We shed our coat, those heavy responsibilities we carry like burdens. We even drop our bag carrying our identification card proclaiming who we are. And then, lighter, like walking on sacred ground, we enter the yoga studio and roll out our mat, our sacred practice space.
It’s difficult not to feel like we are escaping from something. The irony is that the more we try to escape the world, the more the world seems to be on our heels. You may say to yourself, “I’m consciously escaping the world. Ah how sweet.” But what happens the second you step out of the studio? “Darn you, World!” you say as you pump your fist in the air, “I was escaping you and here you are again!” Unfortunately, our problems don’t go away because we choose to ignore them.
Instead, as we practice yoga, we choose to momentarily hang up our responsibilities and problems like our coat on the hook. Yes, and so doing, we refine the conversation with our truer selves, the constant part of us that is the same whether or not we made our mortgage payment on time. In yoga practice, we quiet and focus our minds, open our hearts, and ground ourselves as we move, strengthen, and stretch our bodies, the divine vehicle for mind and spirit. And as we get into the groove of our practice, our practice feels more real than even our mortgage payment.
After class, having touched this truer self, we now have the privilege to go back and grab our bag, don our coat, and put on our shoes, now with a different relationship to our responsibilities. Either they are no longer a burden but rather a sacred stewardship, one that grows from the relationship we have with the brilliance of our truer selves, or we now have the clarity and courage to change that which doesn’t make us feel alive. Our problems don’t change but our relationship to them does.
As we practice yoga regularly and apply this concept of relationship, we begin to treat our life like our yoga practice, balanced with steadiness and ease, with power and grace, and with an open heart and full attention. Now, we are summoning our highest selves to lead this life. With this higher self in control, what we finally escape is not the entire world, just the part of it that contained that old self who carried all those burdens and who lacked the power to make courageous changes.
See you in class!!