I hope you're keeping healthy and warm in this windy, wintry season. January has been a busy month for me: alcohol- gluten- and sugar-free, as well as work- and fitness-ful. From December holiday indulgences through January austerity, I've focused on teaching, meditation and contemplation - most recently ruminating upon how we default to and grapple with polarities, and how we must ultimately accept that opposites exist legitimately and simultaneously all around us.
I believe that human beings embody contradiction. While it might be simpler to view life in terms of polarities - black or white, male or female, like or dislike, it's clear that our existence and experience is full of blurred lines - shades of grey, gender fluidity and indifference. With each and every breath we take, we execute opposing actions: inhale/exhale, expansion/contraction, which are complimentary partners in a process that can be both voluntary and involuntary.
Sometimes we balance evenly between extremes, trying to resolve duality. We pause the breath or we steady ourselves in Tree Pose or Handstand. But most of the time, we must negotiate the subtleties that exist between extremes. We are generous and also take care of our own. We try for equanimity but also suffer doubt and anxiety. We stand firm with confidence and at times become flexible and yielding. Can you be loving and kind yet still succumb to fits of anger and nastiness? Of course. Do I adore poetry and creative language but still swear like a sailor once in a while? F#@k yes! Grace is found in noticing what I'm doing and repeatedly choosing the high road, in accepting that I am forever changing and pendulum-swinging. The sweetest way to live this life is to acknowledge all the points on the wild arc and appreciate the subtleties and vast spectrum of experiences in between opposing poles.
On the mat, it's not just about being in one pose or another. It's about noticing were we push and pull, how we lengthen in one place and shorten in another at the same time. There and off the mat, it's about how we accept where we are, recognize where we've come from and still yearn to grow and change. The whole process is precious! Moment by moment, breath by breath. Take the time to be aware of the transitions, the dynamism in stillness, and the urge of a gravity-bound being to express itself and fly.