This month, I'd like to speak to you about discomfort. It's an interesting topic for me, the yogi who wants to believe in the auspicious underpinnings and positive energy of the universe. Don't we want to live in a blissful state, eliminate suffering, feel wonderful because of our practice? If so, why should we contort ourselves into a variety of unnatural positions a few times a week? Why should we sweat and court change and choose the path that isn't the easiest?
I recently attended a workshop where the teacher said (and I'm quoting loosely): 'This practice isn't about feeling good.' That's not to say it's about feeling lousy, either. It's about detaching yourself from aversions and attractions, noticing when you are present and when you are not. It's about resolving the ebb and flow of polarities and their sway upon you, the tugging at your senses that makes you confuse your abiding Self with what you have or what you do.
In becoming aware and fully present, however, you're bound to encounter some discomfort. It's part of living. For example, if you're completely honest with yourself, you're going to find emotions like envy and anger and greed. If you want to maintain or change relationships, you're going to have to have uncomfortable conversations. If you're doing asana, you'll come across a few poses that aggravate you and your muscles. While I would never advise a student to deny injury or ignore acute pain, I think it's important that we don't settle or give up out of habit. Both on and off your mat, it's vital not to shy away from discomfort; the key is to show up, confront it and still maintain your balance. Accept that the business of getting to know yourself and moving through life with equanimity can be extremely challenging. I firmly believe, though, that it's well worth it. It's the way we evolve and flourish as human beings. So... come on in to class and make yourself uncomfortable!