There are few things in life for which I can claim absolute certainty. However, I would venture to say that we all might agree to this single fact – our human condition is rife with challenge. We might also agree that our tremendous lives are filled with exquisite moments of supreme beauty, love, and joy.
As we traverse our life’s path we encounter a spectrum of hurdles, obstacles, and challenges. Some of them have a universal flavor; day-to-day stressors and minor irritants that aggravate, annoy, and leave us grumbling under our breath. Others are unique to us; personal challenges that seem to arise over and over again throughout our lives. We will all face our fair share of ‘Mount Everests’.
Challenges that appear insurmountable, that knock us out of our groove, that have the power to send us scurrying back to bed, drawing the curtains and pulling the blankets over our heads. Try as we may (and we do), we can’t evade life’s challenges. We can’t safeguard ourselves against them. We can’t run from them. There’s simply no amount of planning that can promise a life entirely free of struggle.
In fact, safeguarding ourselves against the discomfort of life’s challenges would be no life at all. A fuller life, a bigger life, a more expansive life, is in learning to accept, learning to embrace life’s demands as an integral aspect of the beauty of our lives. Traversing adversity has the power to reflect back to us our courage and our capacity for perseverance. It is through our struggles that we experience our physical and mental capabilities to weather storms. It is these opportunities that facilitate growth.
Where better can we cultivate our capacity for acceptance than on our mats?
Our willingness, our efforts to show up – to our mats and to our lives – are an embodiment of our dedication to our asana practice. It’s difficult at times, it’s uncomfortable at times, it’s aggravating at times. It’s also an illuminating and invigorating physical experience that allows us to get close in with our personal strength, our capacity for poise, and our movement towards balance. Our asana practice gives us the opportunity to experience the expansiveness of flow, of surrender, of letting go.
Lately, I have been holding a Tara Brach quote close to my heart, “The boundary to what we can accept is the boundary to our freedom”.
How far does your acceptance reach?
For yourself, for your life, for others.
How great is your freedom?
In this life there are always mountains beyond mountains. Yoga teaches us that it is within our capacity to traverse the mountains with equanimity, resiliency and courage. Our practice is a reminder to live our fullest lives by stepping into the heart’s boundless capacity for compassion, no matter how great the challenge.