Recently I have been really inspired by how a friend has dealt with the unexpected shock of his brother taking his own life (read his excellent blog here). He has found his own method to process the emotions through cycling. As he says on his blog part of this has been allowing there to be a level of unconscious processing, or creating space from an intense situation like this. But also in the act of dedicating /offering up a part of his life that is sacred to him, in memory of his brother.
Yesterday I attended a Bhakti yoga workshop with Rajesh David entitled ‘through love to the self’. He described how heart based practices must give us more than just temporary distraction to our difficulties, practices should help us really deal with the root of the problem. Distractions and diversions will only ever satisfy for a short time, like too many sugary sweets that seem nice to begin with, before quickly turning into a sick feeling.
In the yoga community sometimes there is an impression that everything is about light, rainbows and smells of roses. I often see on social media dogmatic positive intentions, that just don’t ring true for me. I think this is exactly the same thing, when we use our yoga practice to distract and paper over the cracks, it will never really satisfy us.
I have attended many yoga class that has made me cry, to the outsider there may be no apparent reason for the tears. Max storm writes and talks about the close connection between our emotions, breath, and physical tension in the body. So yoga can be a powerful tool for helping us deal with our stuff, assuming we’re not denying the existence of it, or frantically avoiding our problems.
This may be precisely why it can feel really hard to get on the mat somedays. For me when I’m more anxious I find myself subtly finding excuses to myself not to practice meditation. In meditation there are (hopefully) none of the external distractions of daily life. We see the fluctuations of the mind at work, and every now and again, there is that rare pause between thoughts. A moment of space. Yogis believe this is a return to our true nature.
I get up from practice and my problems are still there. But that little bit of space can make a huge difference to my perspective or how it feels in my body. There is no one way of dealing with our stuff. For other people cycling, surfing, painting, playing music or countless other activities will be how they create that space and process what’s going on in their lives. Yoga can provide a highly effective toolkit but only when we are real, and we have the bravery to turn towards our challenges, rather than trying to hide away from them.