"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are."
~ Bernice Johnson Reagon
What does “avoiding difficulty” really mean?
Avoiding – to go around. To detour. To take the easier path. To manage
not to do something or stop something from happening.
I watched today as this guy struggled to go into a back bend. His arms
flopped open, elbows taking the strain, shoulders collapsing.
Desperately trying to push up through a weak foundation. He could
spend years like that, slowly making the weakest parts of his
shoulders weaker and wearing out his elbows: until finally something
breaks. OR he can go a step backwards, he can learn to look at the
part which he finds difficult (in this case holding the elbows in and
the shoulders in their sockets) and work their before even lifting the
head off the floor. Identify the work. The real work. The work that
will bring about positive changes’, that will give you strength; that
will give you a different outcome.
IT IS hard. I know it is hard. That’s why we avoid it. We do it the easy way because we think it will get us to the end result faster. But that is just an illusion. It’s simple not true. All it will do is keep us from the right path. Stop us from heading in the right direction. It actually prevents the results that we desperately seek.
So how can this important lesson be reflected into our day-to-day lives?
If we have the same problem occurring over and over again we to have
to take a step back. Re-asses the situation and identify the weakness.
What is it that we do that avoids dealing with the difficulty? What is
it that causes the same results over and over? For me I am trying to
learn how to act and not react. I tend to get defensive and when I
respond emotionally it is normally unpleasant and vicious. Like a
scorpion, I have a sting in my tail and when I react with my sting, it
hurts. It also drives people away. Scared of being stung again, the
attacker retreats. This has resulted in me being left alone; not the
outcome that I desired.
So, working within my difficulty, I have to take s step backwards. To
recognise what I am doing wrong. See how to change it. Learn how to
act, not react. Let the emotions drain out of a situation before I
respond. Come from a calm and nurturing place. Not a defensive and
stubborn place, unwilling to back down. It IS hard! That’s the real
work. The work that can bring about change. The work that will set
about a different cause and bring about a different effect. The work
that will bring me the results that I want.
Sometimes when we feel bad about ourselves we do things that avoid
dealing with the real issue. We drink alcohol, we smoke : we do things
to numb out the pain. This in turn makes us feel bad, we feel worse
about ourselves and so we drink to hide from it. To avoid dealing with
the real difficulty. What we really need to do is be nice to
ourselves. To work within the difficulty. To take rest, do more yoga,
eat good food, laugh and be with people who love us. Do the hard work
to feel good about ourselves. To get the result that we really want.
To be a fitter, healthier and happier person.
And there you have it. Working within the difficulties. Doing the hard work. The real work. Seeing the faults and putting in lots of effort to correct them, to rebalance them. In the case of the back bend, if you work on the foundation then you will lift up higher. From strong roots we grow tall. And so it is the same with my own issues off the mat. Work on the foundations. Come from a good place, have strong
roots. Work within the difficulties and do the work. Start to get the results that you want.
By changing the way we do things daily, allows a new person inside of
us to grow.
~Laura Grace Ford
Ashtanga Yoga Devon
I recently had a powerful (not to mention painful) lesson to learn. It seems that when I don’t ‘get’ something the universe has a way of slapping me across the face with it. I am sure it has something to do with my stubborn nature and my refusal to shift my viewpoint when I think I am already ‘right’ about something. However, when I don’t pick up on the gentle subtleties of life’s lessons and the softly softly approach has failed me, the universe comes down on me like a tropical thunderstorm. There is no hiding from it, no running away and no pretending like it is not happening. So I thought I would share my little lesson with you so that you may have the chance to learn from my mistakes and avoid being slapped across the cheek in the middle of a downpour yourself.
Recently somebody crossed me. They belittled me, put me down and attacked me. (well it felt like an attack at the time although I did admit after to being a little low, a bit over sensitive and rather premenstrual-mental) anyway…. I reacted. That’s the key word here reacted. Emotionally charged, fuelled with defensive anger, I attacked back, I lashed out with my scorpion sting and stung the guy right where it hurts – the ego!
Normally I am such a sweet natured, charming girl but I am not nice to cross. I’m sure that the little girl with the little curl nursery rhyme was written about me. Anyway, I didn’t hold back. I let rip. In a way that only I know how. All that I said was true, but it was spoken in a vicious tongue with the intention to hurt. And hurt it did. The problem is that when the scorpion produces that poison a bit of that poison stays in your own system, polluting the pure blood and makes you feel bad. I felt so bad about the pain and hurt that I had caused that I cried for 2 days L
You are responsible for your own actions and you can’t blame someone else. If someone hurts or attacks you and you become angry – you are choosing anger. If you vent that anger, you are choosing to. And then that anger becomes part of you, it becomes the colour that you have chosen to wear that day.
When these situations occur in my life, I dissect them. I chop them up into little pieces and try desperately hard to make sense of them. I have always been incredible self -reflective and need to learn from every situation as it arises. I explained the situation to my mum, who explained it to me in Astrological terms. She told me that I have a lot of personal planets in Scorpio, which explains the sting in my tail. Mars in Scorpio particularly affected this as it dictates how you fight. If someone attacks me then my natural instinct is to fight back, and when I do it is with venom. I also have Pluto in my mid heaven, which makes me stand my ground and I am not afraid to defend myself. I also have Sagittarius rising which makes me quick of the tongue – however I tend to speak on impulse and think later. It also makes me spout words out rather than speak them quietly and clearly, especially if I feel that I have been treated unfairly.
However, this response does not work for me anymore. Now that yoga has made me increasingly analytical about everything that I say and do. After the emotion and anger had drained out of the situation I was the one left feeling bad. I cried for two whole days and lay awake at night regretting my vicious words and wishing that my tongue had held itself.
The yoga sutra’s offered me this advice “you should always be honest, however a hurtful truth should not be uttered.” So if you are saying something just to be hurtful, even if it is true, then you should learn how to keep stum.
Yesterday I was reading my spiritual scriptures (continually trying to improve myself) and Eknath Easwaran shed some more light on my lesson.
“I have heard the most cultured of people, in the most affectionate of relationships, saying hurtful things simply because they have not learned to train the mind never to indulge in any kind of harm.”
He goes on to say “Nothing burns in hell but self-will. An outburst of self-will may seem justified at the time, but for those who are sensitive; a stab of remorse follows all too soon. This is a good sign. It is better to be sensitive, suffer from our mistakes and learn not to repeat them than to go through life, leaving a trail of broken relationships and wondering why we hurt inside.”
So this is my lesson, my gift from me to you. Learn how to act not react. Learn how to hold back a rude remark, even if you are being insulted, put down, attacked or belittled. You must learn to think “Oh no – I don’t want to lie awake at night feeling remorseful and regretting my words. Easwaran says that eventually the reversal of the conditioning will go so far that if someone says or does something unkind towards you that you will instantly feel sorry for that person (and not for yourself). That is my new goal, definitely something worth working towards.
This rule also falls into the moral principle of Ahimsa – non harming. It is choosing how you react to not hurt others but also to not harm yourself by your words to others.
The very least we can do is learn from our mistakes and hope that next time around we act differently. When you acknowledge a mistake and lie awake at night unable to sleep because of it then you must use that pain to drive down to the depths of your inner being and bring about change. Connect to your deeper consciousness and help bring about the desire to not act on self -will again.
Don’t be too harsh on yourself though, remember that it is better to make mistakes, suffer and learn than not to grow at all.
Be gentle to yourself. Be kind to others. Love thy enemy in order to Love thyself.
Ashtanga Yoga Devon - UK Distributor for Yoga Paws