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The other day I turned on the faucet and the water was surprisingly cold.

“Ouch!” I yelled.

I immediately felt like a moron.

This was not pain. This was unexpectedly uncomfortable. Ouch was not the appropriate reaction but I guess it’s what I say when I experience a sensation that I don’t enjoy.

I’ve heard people say that Bikram yoga teachers encourage students to ignore pain and push past limits and people hurt themselves because of that. Personally, I think Bikram teachers encourage you to sit with what is uncomfortable and get comfortable with it.

(If they were really trying to hurt you, that would be really bad for business. You would never come back. And you’d sue them.)

We are kind of soft in our society. Anything slightly unpleasant, anything resembling something other than instant gratification and we feel that we jump to change the situation immediately.

I want to try to be with those uncomfortable moments. I can take it. It’s not about choosing pain; I’m not shoving my hand in a fireplace or something. It’s about knowing that I can handle more than I tend to give myself credit for.

Stretching pain sensation down the back of your legs…

Stretch beyond your flexibility…

This does not mean that you should ignore a sharp, shooting agony that leaves you gasping; I think you are smart enough to know what legitimate pain feels like. But if there is an uncomfortable, achy stretch, try to breathe and keep with it. Because that moment of stillness and dedication will result in greater flexibility and strength. If you stay where it’s easy-peasy all the time, you are never going to make progress.

This concept extrapolates to the rest of my life, too, because I can learn to handle uncomfortable silences, situations and people without freaking out. I can just acknowledge, wow, this is uncomfortable, but I’m aware it’s not going to kill me. Those experiences will allow me to progress, to grow, to get stronger.

Try just being with that difficult pose or the uncomfortable thought or the awkward situation. You don’t need to immediately run away or change things or fix it for someone else. See what it is like to not move to react mindlessly to every situation, just be there and be with it.

Accept it and acknowledge that fact that you can handle this. Take a breath, quiet your mind and just see what happens. That ache might just fade into surrender.

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