Why in the world are we here_
Surely not to live in pain and fear
The world can be a scary place. For some, who are trying to survive in war zones, there is a real danger to face, while others may be dealing with a different kind of destruction, such as a life-threatening illness in themselves or a loved one. The rest of us lucky beings simply have to deal with life’s daily wrenches—some of them legitimately scary, while other stuff that we perceive as frightening could actually be a blessing in disguise, like losing a job or ending a relationship.
Of course, if you’re lucky enough to have a thriving yoga practice, you’re likely to find yourself facing your fears and learning to deal with them on an almost daily basis—whether you want to or not. Every time we step onto the mat, we have an opportunity to study our innate reactions to difficult situations. How we handle problems on the mat is like gazing into our own personal looking glass and seeing the truth about our innermost feelings. And, sometimes, it’s not very pretty.
I remember when I first began a serious practice, I used to find the most hidden spot in the room because I didn’t want anyone to see me struggling or, heaven forbid, failing. When it came time for inversions, I always headed for the bathroom—I’d rather run away than face the embarrassment of not succeeding. As I became more involved in the philosophy of yoga, I began to make the inevitable connection between my actions on the mat and my actions in life. I realized that I had been spending a lot of time and energy running away from problems rather than confronting them. It was never my fault—it was always because someone else didn’t understand me.
Eventually, my asana practice gave me the insight and courage to be a better human being. Certainly, I still have plenty of personal dilemmas to work through, but I find that I’ve become much kinder and much more forthright. And although I may still look for a less obvious position to place my mat in class I rarely, if ever, choose to leave the room.