"I have lived a long life and had many troubles, most of which never happened. " Mark Twain
Like Mark Twain, most of us create disturbance for ourselves by anticipating trouble. Whether it comes or not, we’ve experienced the turbulence of that trouble. It may as well have happened, and in some cases, it means it happens repeatedly as we lose ourselves in the repeated experiencing of feelings we generate! To your body, adrenaline is adrenaline, whether it arises from a real or imagined threat.
Let me give an example. You may think, “I’m going to lose my job.” Some fear can be a catalyst. The possibility of losing your job might cause you to start looking elsewhere or reconsider whether this job was the right fit for you now. Or it may stimulate you to proactively figure out why your job might be in danger and if there’s anything you can do to avoid it. But that’s NOT where most of us stop. We ruminate, churning over and over all the feelings and fears and hurts. In doing so, our thoughts and emotions stop being productive and actually create trauma for us.
“Yoga, in its purest form, requires that you dedicate (that) time to being introspective and meditative. When you become an observer of your mind and body without making judgments or giving energy to thoughts that come, your body restores itself to its natural, calm state. Asana practice reduces stress hormones, thus relaxing your mind even though your body is physically working hard.” Yoga by Candace 10/4/12
The calm and balance we achieve through our yoga practice help us DISCERN what’s real and imagined (or anticipated,) and gives us the DISCIPLINE to feel and then release the grip of our emotions so that we can respond skillfully. It helps to bring us deeper inward, to our wellspring of faith—in ourselves and in our spiritual center. Powerful! (And not always attainable. Be gentle with yourself when the old habits pull you back! Just come back, again and again, to your inner wisdom.)
The next time the churn begins for you, give it some space. Our emotions and thoughts can be instructive! But draw on your practice to help you keep that churn from swamping you. This is how we can actively shape our lives, even though we can’t control everything that comes our way. Perhaps imagine Mark Twain, eyes twinkling, rocking on his chair, challenging you with his humor to write a different response.
I've taught and lived yoga for more than 20 years. I know it can be intimidating. But it can also be fun--and rewarding--regardless of your starting point or challenges. On this blog I share some of the yoga wisdom that sustains me.