Lots of people I know seem to be going through tough times at the moment. They’re in the valleys of life, rather than the peaks. I don’t care what anybuddhi says, sometimes life really is a big pile of poo. And as much as we can reassure ourselves in hard times that ‘this too shall pass’, sometimes we just want to punch the platitudes in the face because, frankly, we are emotional and sensory beings, we feel things, we can’t always simply choose to feel happy – although we’re often pressured to feel it’s this simple.
Often, when we’re trying to find silver linings, see the forest for the trees, or look on the bright side of life, we forget to give expression to the true feelings. We feel we should be able to somehow rise above them. But there are times when, despite our most optimistic efforts, the heart grows heavy. We feel it there, water-logged in the chest, but we don’t know what to do with it. If we open the gates, we might get swept away.
This is the part where I say yoga fixes everything, right?
Well, no. That’s not a promise I’m willing to make. Theoretically, yoga, like Buddhism, creates a distance between our self and our suffering. Enlightenment is just that – it is the dissolution of the heaviness that comes with being human. With a simple switch in perception (that comes to us through practice), we see that we are not our thoughts, or emotions, or bodies, or senses, or jobs, or relationships, or wealth, or social status. These are anchors that bind us to suffering. Transcendence sets us free. Alas, achieving transcendence is about as easy as being able to lick your brain through your left nostril.
So, I’m not going to tell you yoga will eliminate your suffering. But I will say this: yoga seems to have this uncanny ability to shift things – even if just for fleeting moments. Sometimes fleeting moments are enough to lift the spirits to hope.
When the effort of living is reduced to putting one foot in front of the other, yoga might not erase all your pain but it can be the friend who holds your hand.
©The Yoga Experiment, 2013