Sunday, November 6, 2011

"is yoga hard to do?"

My teacher told me once: "have at least one difficult conversation a day."
Another of my teachers told me: "speaking from the heart is one of the hardest to do."

Today, each of these teachings comes to mind simultaneously.

There are so many times in our lives where we have to speak really candidly with ourselves, to be really straight and honest about what is happening in our lives, about how we feel towards someone, or how we feel about something. These kinds of conversations can be difficult to start, and scary. Sometimes, our highest mind knows what needs to happen, but another part of us comes on board - the part that we practice too often, the part that keeps us comfortable and unchallenged. This part is usually a habit or behavioral pattern that serves a kind of protective purpose.

It's a funny cycle...

On the mat, there are behavioral patterns, and even deeper than that, muscle memory, that brings the body into misalignment over and over again. For instance, turning your index fingers slightly toward each other while in downward facing dog (instead of parallel to each other). This will eventually lead to wrist pain and other discomfort, and it can take a great deal of present-moment focus to undo this habit,but it's necessary to ensure that your body is taken care of!

So why is it so hard to do?

I suppose it's a little subjective...some people can simply make up their mind and the entire behavioral profile can change - like quitting smoking. There was a time when I smoked cigarettes, and then there was a time when I decided I was done, and in a matter of weeks I was no longer a smoker. I was done with the habit. But that is not the case for many people who smoke. And this kind of swift change is not the case for many people regarding many issues. So what do we do?

... We continue to have difficult conversations with ourselves. We continue to return to a place of honesty. We have faith that the results we need will happen. We speak from the heart. We practice. We seek out examples of this courage in others. We keep practicing.

It is hard to speak from the heart. We have literally built layers of protective shields over it because it is so valuable. But if we are to ever grow beyond the boundaries of our old selves, we have to at least begin the difficult conversation.We have to say, "this is hard," and then keep going, non-violently, and persistently.

When I asked my teacher how to begin, he said, "Well, I always find it helpful to just say the obvious - 'This is awkward for me to talk about, but...'

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