How yoga taught me to deal with discomfort
As many of you know, I've been a regular practitioner of hot yoga or Bikram yoga (yoga done in a room heated above 100F). This is a yoga that truly tests your mental and physical strength. At times, it's uncomfortable as your muscles shake in a posture, or the temperature rises in the room. At times, I've found myself agitated, looking for the cause of my discomfort, blaming everything in the room. I've witnessed my mind looking for something to lock onto, a source for the blame "It's too hot in the room". "The teacher's timing is off". "The person next to me is breathing too loud". "It smells bad in here". It's comical really. I think it was the Buddha who said "the root of all suffering is attachment". I realize now, I've been attached to how I want things to go. I've been attached to how I want to feel in yoga class, attached to what I think the temperature should be at, the teacher's timing as she moves us through postures. I've been attached to wanting yoga to feel relaxing, or healing, or easy. None of these factors are factors I can control. The only thing I can control is my own awareness, my breathing, using the breath to calm my body down, and assessing what's needed based on the current situation. I can't even control what my yoga will look like that day, because it will change based on the environmental factors, my energy level, whether I ate well the days leading up to class, and where I'm at mentally/emotionally. Such is life. Some days everything will be going wrong at work, or in life and it's easy to blame those external factors for discomfort or a bad mood. It's true, we are affected by energy from people, places, circumstances, and experiences, but if we can let go of placing blame and focus on what we can do to change our energy, or rebalance, it may be a more effective focus of energy. Some days all the factors are just right, and you feel like you're coasting. Some days it's the opposite and you may need to metaphorically sit out some postures, or focus on maintaining control of your breath. Next time you're in a place of discomfort, agitation, frustration do these following two steps:
- Stop, close your eyes and take a few long slow deep breaths. Make sure you're in control of your breathing before moving onto step 2.
- Ask yourself "what am I attached to". Am I attached to wanting someone to respond/act a specific way, attached to an old identity, attached to a dream, attached to wanting to feel a certain way, how I think this situation should go, etc.
First step is always awareness. When we become aware of something, we decrease the power it has over us (even if just a little). I thank my yoga practice for the discomfort it brought me so I could learn this powerful lesson. It took me years to detach from my blame, and I'm still working on it, but now I can recognize the discomfort as the attachment that's causing my suffering. Attachment is part of the human experience so guaranteed we all have it. Attachment is necessary for connection to life, but in many instances it stops serving us and causes suffering. This is when you can analyze and use awareness to decrease its power. Hope my musings on the subject were of service to you and your life. Namaste.