Today is Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere - the shortest day, the longest night. Yin trumps Yang. Pause. Reflect.
I woke up to a sunny, cloudless, windy morning. Being mowed down by a strange virus attack the past week, I got out of bed feeling almost human again.
I could feel my feet on the ground. I can breathe with almost no pain in my ribs, I can take another step forward without feeling the world closing in on me. The ceaseless pounding in my head seem to have dialled its screech down to just a dull static too.
Sickness can make days feel like decades, and pain can make minutes feel like eternity. My teacher tells me that Suffering = Pain + Resistance; and resistance is the story lines we create from the pain, which can easily build themselves up into epic dramas.
Solstice comes from the Latin words - sol, which means Sun, and sistere, which means stillness and incidentally, is “sthi” in Sanskrit - the root word for steadiness or stability.
Today is also International Yoga Day. And to honour these 2 auspicious occasions falling on the same day, I invite you to sit in the quietude that is right here within us in the eye of storm. Marvel at the power of our emotions. See how we can release, transform, or accept them.
Yoga teaches us how to suffer with an open heart, and a quiet mind.
During the Yoga Therapy training last week, an overarching theme revolving round how we handle deep-seated patterns (Samskaras) to bring about change and healing to our body-mind.
Pema Chodron spoke of a profound Buddhist concept Shenpa in her talk Positive Groundlessness: The Freedom to Choose Something Different. Through an understanding in the impermanence of all things in essence, and the ability to relax into this knowing. She offered a 3-step tools whom she deemed as "difficult", but with practice, will help in not setting us back into our habits / patterns that keep us trapped, to not get stuck in the status quo or our perceived comfort zone, and to revel in the "unknowing" of it all.
Awareness (Jnana) ~ to notice when we get "hooked"- the baits, the triggers (expectations, fear, assumptions etc) that led us to believe that the rug is being pulled from under our feet, and our conditioned reflex to "fight/flight" by reacting with judgement, blame, anger, hate, even towards ourselves.
Desire (Iccha) ~ A desire to change - simply noticing or becoming aware isn't enough if our default ego-driven response still goes "Yes, but..." A solid willingness to transform (Tapas) has to goes beyond superficial cognition, but also somatically. When the mind closes, the body contracts, and vice versa. Being able to allow our mind-body to stay open in challenging situations and self inquiring into the status quo can fundamentally change our behaviour.
Action (Kriya) ~ A life-long practice to keep coming back to this groundlessness in our words and actions. To keep falling flat on our faces and getting up, to not let our sense of righteousness drive us into believing that being right is more important than being love, to let our bleeding hearts crack open as we fall, and to allow this sense of groundlessness be the womb in which kindness and compassion flourish.
“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man's-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. ”
~ Pema Chodron
Registered Yoga Therapist, Somatic Movement Educator, Bodyworker, Yoga Teacher Trainer