Unexpected Lessons

>> Wednesday, December 30

Cleaning out my blog, as it were, I found this old, unpublished post.  I like the message, so I thought I'd post it now.  enjoy!  
originally written february 19, 2009

Although we have been made to believe that if we let go we will end up with nothing, life itself reveals again and again the opposite: that letting go is the path to real freedom.
- Excerpt from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying By Sogyal Rinpoche

That's what I wish I had read last week, mid-afternoon before yoga class. Maybe then I wouldn't be sitting in my house with a leg sticky from Tiger's Balm and a strong longing for nothing more than the ability to bend forward, suddenly very unrealistic. I've read again and again the yogic principle of "ahimsa" or "non-violence", and I claim to understand it. Yet for every time I've read it, I'm pretty sure there's a good example of how I have not applied it when I could have. That's ok, some things you've got to learn by doing (or not doing) but it's getting old to keep pushing myself just beyond my limits when I know deep down I shouldn't. This time it won't matter; I need to work harder, I tell myself, and that was exactly what was going through my head when I pulled a hamstring last week. Again.

The truly annoying part? I kept going to classes and didn't mention it to the teachers. Massochism? Maybe more like Daniela suggested a few weeks ago: victimization. Or at least, the need to feel like a saint for bearing my discomfort in silence. Ouch. Good ol' ego is kicking at that thought. Whatever the reason, I kept pushing myself and yesterday felt a resounding pop in standing split that brought on instant tears. Now, even walking hurts. It's a challenge not to let it piss me off. I would like to be seriously angry at the situation, and last night, walking very slowly to the tram stop with Daniel watching quietly and waiting for the explosion, I was. I felt like every bit of progress I've been making has been an illusion-I've been practicing so much better, so strongly and smoothly, and without feeling challenged horribly all the time. I thought I was really breaking into something new, and that's part of why I decided to go for my teacher's training this May. Suddenly, with a self-inflicted limp, I wondered out loud if I am just running into something I haven't even begun to understand.

I said it out loud, maybe hoping for an easy, verbal response. But there isn't one. There is no simple answer to a problem that goes to the center of who I am. Honestly, I believe that we are all capable of understanding and embracing yogic principles and lifestyles; practicing non-violence while practicing self-discipline and study; finding absolute joy in every moment without the constant buzz of self-gratification and affirmation. We can all just "be" and be fine with that. Admitting that it's something we may never reach is the part that puts me in my place every time. I think, "wow, yeah, I get it, peace and respect and resolve and release, all at the same time, I totally see that, I can do it." And if I meet a challenge, it crumples fairly easily into fear and self-doubt, showing all too clearly that I'm just setting up pretty pictures for myself of what I think I should be doing, not what I am doing. If I was really releasing, I would have no problem with never reaching perfection-or with doing half a standing split when my muscles are stiff.

The beautiful irony of the situation is that what I need is to slow down, and by ignoring that need initially, I have forced myself into a position where I have no other choice. Life teaches us lessons, and the one I thought i needed to learn (discipline; strength; something masculine and difficult) is only something I have imagined. I, and probably you too, live in a society which preaches hard-headed masculine strength as the cure-all for lifes problems. When I see a wall, I want to kick the fucker down, or jump over, or somehow prove I'm powerful enough to dominate it. Maybe next time I'll stop stubbing my toes and scraping my knuckles, and just enjoy the shade and shelter from the wind.

Enlightenment is the "quiet acceptance of what is". I believe the truly enlightened beings are those who refuse to allow themselves to be distressed over things that simply are the way they are.
- Wayne Dyer


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