on the mat is a state of mind
Thank you, Rolf Gates; you always seem to know exactly what I need to hear. I was wondering how I was going to tie what I’ve been feeling into things that have been happening in my life into something about yoga. Thanks so much for lining everything up nicely for me.
I’ve been doing mostly vinyasa style yoga, which links the poses with the breath in a continuous movement. I love the flow (hence the title of my blog) – I love the continuity of class and strive to find that same fluidity in my everyday life. As always, I’m searching for the parallels between life and yoga, yoga and life. I was on the phone with a friend from Denver last night, and he’s found that he has feelings for a girl he met a couple of months ago, which is a good thing, but she moved to Europe a week after they met. Since she left, he’s been to visit her, but they have yet to ‘define’ the relationship, so to speak. He knows that the significant distance is an issue, and wants to take things slowly and avoid the pitfalls of moving too quickly to compensate for the space between them, of forcing things to happen prematurely. Even though he knows that waiting to define things until they’ve had a chance to get to know each other better is the right thing to do, he is having trouble being in the ‘in-between.’
As we talked, I tried to explain how the in-between is just as valid of a place to be as the ‘is’ or the ‘is not.’ It is it’s own place, and offers its own lessons, if you can let go of the need to do something about it and just be in it. It’s a difficult task to suspend our desire to act and accomplish. I see it in myself in class all the time, hanging out in a pose for five breaths and then flinging myself into the next pose, where I happily hang out for another few breaths, but spending little to no thought, time or breath on the transition. Rolf Gates writes:
The transitions between postures are postures in their own right. The breath and the meditation are unbroken… it is our tendency to pay attention to the postures themselves, but not to the spaces in between. So it is in life. We leave one relationship or job and set our sights on the next. We cross one item off the to-do list and dive into the next chore. The illusion is that the posture ends. The reality is that the posture never ends, it just shifts from one form to the next, one lesson to the next, one opportunity to the next. We remain life’s student whether we are inhaling or exhaling, in a relationship or out of one, saving the world or looking for a temp job…. The illusion is that there is separation, levels of importance, beginnings and endings. Yoga brings us to the understanding that the posture never ends.
I am currently in transition. Well, actually I am in about ten transitions. I am between classes, between bouts of education, between relationships, between houses and right this minute, between patients at work. I am also between highs with my yoga. Usually, when I find myself losing steam or interest, I take a couple days off, but this 108 day adventure makes no allowances for boredom. I can’t just jump to the next thing, I am forced to hang out in the in-between, a place that I am never too fond of nor comfortable in. I have noticed that I feel this way about my life too. I’ve been single for some time, and though I have little time for or interest in finding a relationship, I thought I’d put myself out there and try to date again, just for kicks. A couple of things happened. I went on a good date. I went on a bad date. Both required that I sacrifice time that I’d normally spend with my friends, taking care of myself, or going to yoga. I realized that though I feel like I’m in a good place right now, it’s not necessarily the right time for me to bring anyone else into my life. I’ve learned a great deal about myself in the last few months, but there’s so much farther to go. The whole experience reminded me to trust and respect the boundaries and goals I’ve set for myself, even when I start to feel uncomfortable; just as I go to class even when I don’t particularly want to because I promised myself I’d show up.
On a physical level, we develop true strength and stability in the transitions. The same is true of transitions in our lives. This is where we develop grace and fluidity, in being able to just be, and flow with whatever comes.