So I am had a extremely difficult time sitting down to write this week. Even though I tried to create the perfect conditions conducive for working – I woke up early, had a beautiful practice, came out to one of my new favorite cafes, had a topic in mind, and brought along research to help – I still ended up staring at the screen coming up with trite, after bland, after awful sentence. My mind kept wandering, landing on thoughts about emotional reactions and yoga.
It might not help that as I left this morning I had failed to mention to my boyfriend that I was going out early. In his groggy state, he was a little peeved. He was looking forward to us having a lazy day on the couch watching movies and hanging out. So after a few choice words, I left him to go back to sleep, and came out to work.
Though it took me a little bit of time to fully calm down, I realized something. Whereas before I might have cussed, yelled, or ‘freaked out’, all I did was sit there and let him rant at me a little bit then left. Still as I sat here trying to write, that encounter was all that could fill my thoughts. I thought about all the things I could say if I got home and he was still angry, then I turned my thoughts more positive and thought about if I got home and he just apologize for being grumpy and explaining he had not even woken up.
This is not an isolated incident for me. The more I have been practicing the more it seems that the things that would have made me flip a table, are just mere indiscretions that pass with a few breaths. I have been the same at work, with my friends, and my family. Even with situations that most would classify as being scream worthy situations, I have brushed off with faith that something better is coming along to replace the loss, or that there is a reason behind it all.
This idea of disconnecting from our emotional reactions is nothing new. Ram Dass in his article about getting older even mentions his reactions to his Indian friend remarking on his gray hair.
“Like in India when I went there last time, two years ago, one of my lovely old friends up in a village in the mountains, said to me ‘Ram Dass, you’re looking so old.’ He said ‘You’re so grey.’ Now, at first my reaction to that was my Western cultural reaction of ‘Oh god – that’s terrible’, but then when I quieted down, I heard the tone with which he was saying it. He was saying it with great respect and delight. Like I had now become one of the elders in the society and he was saying ‘Wow, you’ve done it, you’ve grown old, how great.’”
Still this quote reminds us that even one of the West’s most prominent gurus sometimes has emotional reactions that are from conditioning or past experiences. Nevertheless, this quote also reminds us that it is still our duty to see though those reactions and not act on them.
As I have said in An off the Mat Test of Warrior our time on our mats doing asana teaches us to breath in uncomfortable situations. What I had yet to connect is that this practice also comes into play with more volatile emotional reactions. The more we practice and drop away the need for the ego the less we react to the situations that should be ‘getting under our skin’. The more we breath in poses and uncomfortable situations, the less we need to react with mistrust or anger.
Practice in love and peace ❤