When life on or off the mat gets stressful, sad, or troubled, are you able to laugh and find comfort in the fact that the loving universe will provide?
Ernest Holmes said, “Our vision is beclouded and the pathway of our progress is obstructed until we come to know that God can and does express as Good in every person and every situation.” How often have you had a problem arise in your life and, in your attempt to be mindful to the situation, you’ve reacted immediately in an attempt to control the outcome? Usually, a response like this results in high stress and a feeling of no control. This year, I applied for dozens upon dozens of jobs that I was fully qualified for, but I rarely, if ever, received a callback. After eight months of this, I started to feel like a failure–I couldn’t get a job, therefore my family didn’t have enough money, therefore we couldn’t complete the yard, paint the house, pay the insurance, etc., etc., etc. Although I was being mindful to the “outcome” of the situation, that type of mindfulness was digging me into a hole of depression.
Gates asks us to break down the word “mindfulness.” It is the art of paying attention, he says, but rather than sitting anxiously on the edge of our seats, waiting to respond quickly and control the outcomes to events, we must instead pay attention with “an abiding faith in a loving universe.” I would add that having amusement–being able to find laughter or a simple smile–in every situation aids us in this type of mindfulness. If I had been mindful this way, found my smile and moved on, I would have realized that those lack of callbacks were a blessing in disguise. The “Good” in the situation was that I was able to spend more time figuring out exactly what I wanted to do, so that I would recognize when the universe sent it my way. I was also able, as I’ve written before, to spend more time on yoga and spiritual growth. In the process, I’ve met a myriad of wonderful friends who support all the of the changes my life has taken.
In my classes, I often ask students to notice if they’ve brought their sense of humor. When we are too serious in anything, including our yoga practice, we often aim for perfection rather than mindfulness and the energy or the prana slows down or stops all together. The result is a mental, and sometimes even physical, block. Imagine a student learning Bakasana, crow or crane pose, for the first or maybe the hundredth time. The posture is difficult and can take years to learn. If the student takes herself too seriously, chances are she’ll become fed up with her perceived lack of accomplishment and either stop trying or move on all-together. But the student who can laugh at herself when she falls and be open to any outcome is more likely to keep with her practice and grow into the posture.
Today I practiced in a beginners vinyasa class, the type of class that has the same structure to allow beginners to gain confidence. Although I’ve taught the structure many, many times, I focused on staying mindful–paying attention with faith in good things–through each posture and not anticipating what came next. I was able to feel the joy in each posture, rather than anticipate or focus on the stress. And when I fell over moving through a posture that is difficult for me, I laughed, then moved on.