What attitude do you bring to the mat?
What do you step away from the mat with?
Over the years, I've observed myself come to the mat with all sorts of emotions. Sometimes they are positive, sometimes they are negative, sometimes they are extremely negative. For the sake of this blog post, I'm going to focus on the negative ones. There have been mornings where I've felt: dislike, drag, indifference, repulsion, pain, sadness, irritability, soreness....the list goes on. These emotions have been towards myself, towards other and towards the practice. However, what I have come to notice, is that most of the time by the end of practice, no matter how hard my mind has been wanting to grip to the emotion, it is gone.
If an emotion, that can feel so big and overwhelming in one moment, can the next moment, loose its power over us, then these 3 things must be true:
1. Emotion is something separate and exterior to us
2. Emotion is temporary not permanent: it is passing
3. We have a choice: to identify with the emotion or to not identify.
Having a breath based practice allows us to create distance, between the perceiver and the perceived, in this case the perceiver being the practitioner and the perceived the emotion. Hence we are not doomed to be attached forever to an emotion, or a perceived something. We are capable of creating the space to let it pass, and survive with joy on the other side...its pretty great.
And what is joy anyway? The more I live the more I realize joy is not this crazy intense feeling, it's actually a flawless state of being, that is effortless. The effort is in trying to keep away all the other 'mind stuff’ or mental, emotional noise- that occupies most of the space.
I’ve watched this pattern over the years now, day in and day out...coming to the mat with an emotion and it lifted by savasana. Our minds love to grip onto things that make us loop around in misery. with practice this gripping softens, it looses importance. As we become familiar with it’s cycle we can learn to rely on the proven fact that whatever it is that feels so important in this moment, will feel a little less hard the next moment.
Who said we have to feel intense emotions to be alive? I was brought up thinking that and it took me 30 years to begin to understand that happiness is not an intense feeling and doesn’t come from intense things. Happiness is brought about by being present and a little less invested in trying to hold on to it.