Yin and Tonic

Today I have a two hour workshop on yin. Yin is long held poses encouraged to open up the connective tissue within our bodies. Any ‘body’ can do yin but not any ‘mind’. The long held poses, the quiet and the discomfort are almost too much to bear for some students. I suggested one of my newer students try it and she laughed ‘ oh no I’m not ready for that!’ Lying still gives opportunity for space. When we have space we can see ourselves a little more clearly and sometimes we don’t like what we see. The antidote for space is keeping busy and most of us now have made that our mantra, keep going, keep doing……..but not keep being.

Here is what yin can teach us;

Discomfort is expected.“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” ~ B.K.S. Iyengar

Life is pretty messy isn’t it? Buddha states in his first noble truth, ‘life is suffering’. Sometimes a day seems like a series of annoying moments linked together with coffee breaks. Even though I got up before dawn to write this in peace my son got up not long after so during this we are talking about the ‘Friendly giant and superpowers’. It’s not what I ordered but what I got.

Pain is all around us ready to greet us at any moment. Emotionally, mentally and physically.

People can upset us, ignore us or leave us. We can become slightly sick or suffer a major health turning point. We can feel discomfort when we recall memories, and we can even create pain by thinking about things that have not even happened.  During the yin class we experience some physical discomfort as we stay up to 10 minutes in a pose. Yin teaches us this very important life lesson. Stay with the discomfort, don’t run and don’t hide. The discomfort in your life is there for a reason. It is a teacher and it is there to reflect to you something that you need to know. By staying with physical discomfort in yin poses we can train ourselves to be more resilient in our life. We can learn about courage and what it means to stay. We can learn what it is we have to change about ourselves to relieve the discomfort. Maybe it is how we view ourselves or maybe it is just remembering to breath.

yin quoteThe value is in the long held poses.

The first minute is usually OK for most students in the pose and then we watch what happens. The distractions start. Students will start to pick at their toe nails, shift in their seat, drink water, adjust their wardrobe. Anything to distract them from the stillness. Distraction is the first sign of not being present. What you are trying to do is change the situation that you don’t feel comfortable with. We all want to flee discomfort. We all seem to want to be somewhere else except in the moment. Most of us feel like the next moment is going to be better. Staying with what you have, appreciating the gifts of the moment amidst the discomfort is doing yoga. We can do this in our lives when we encounter awkward situations with relationships or work. We can do it when something becomes difficult and we want to give up. We can practice this when we become impatient. Yin teaches us to stay in the moment.

Being with yourself is time well spent.”Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you as what happens outside. If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Each pose is like a mini hibernation. You go into silence and stay there and watch what comes up. Sometimes the combination of long held poses, space, time and permission can bring up some stuff. Some of this stuff can be very emotional. I have been in a pose and cried, it’s not uncommon. What happens when you give yourself time is you start to see things about yourself. Maybe you realise there is something that needs to change in your life. Maybe you take something out of your dump truck of past experience that you never processed. Maybe you realise that time and peace is the tonic that you have denied yourself. It’s a bit like not knowing you were being squashed until the big white elephant gets off your back. When you are liberated like this, when you can look closely at your pain or blockages then you are beginning the process of unveiling or revealing to yourself your true nature.

Practice for today: Try one yin pose and hold it for a long time and see what happens. This is the beginning of self study and learning. If you are unable to do this remember the lessons from yin. Stay with what is uncomfortable, don’t run or hide from what you dislike, take time to be in silence with yourself and have courage to witness whatever comes up for you without judgement on yourself.

27: Two Timer

happiness 4I’m not sure how you spend your internal life but I spend mine two timing myself.Like a drunken monkey I swing randomly between the branches of desire and rejection. My whole day is made up in this way trying to get what I want and get rid of what I don’t want in the hopes I will be happy. This dichotomy of paired addictions is labelled by Buddha ‘the eight worldly dharmas’.

What we want;

Pleasure, praise, recognition, gain

What we don’t want;

Pain, blame, disgrace, loss

This duplicitous attempt of mine to covet the first list and avoid the second list keeps me in a state of tension between what I crave and what I dread. Using this formula the only way I can be happy is to get what I want and reject what I don’t. However this constant wrestling with adverse circumstances while trying to hold onto the good ones is a way we will never be contented.

So what to do?

If we are to live in a peaceful monogamous relationship with ourselves we must learn to accept that what we don’t want is as much a part of living as what we want. When we see that something is a part of us and not something to be denied or rejected we can examine our relationship to that state. If we contemplate that all these features are part of everyone’s life and they are not proof someone is out to get us or proof we are inadequate or inferior then we can move into accepting them. If we learn to open our hearts and minds to all the dharmas we could find the root of happiness. At this root we learn to experience all that life presents us without trying to edit the parts of life we don’t want. At this root we learn to end our struggle with pain, blame, disgrace and loss.

Practice for today: When you learn to be more sensitive to the things you struggle with in life and learn to accept them as part of life, part of who you are, then your internal battle, the constant war within you will dim. Instead of being unfaithful to the parts of you that you want to deny, accept them all and watch your relationships flourish.