Τετάρτη, 18 Δεκεμβρίου 2013

Honouring where we are (by Maja Zilih)

In yoga practice it is irrelevant how “far” one’s body can go. It is a common mistake to force the body off its limits and to seek satisfaction in the “advanced” versions of a pose. This is why we are constantly reminded by teachers never to go beyond the level of pain. We are patient until the body itself invites us to go deeper. We honour the body’s state – degree of strength, elasticity, endurance – without imposing on it the state that the mind believes the body should be at. The key to all poses is staying in the present moment and focusing on feelings and thoughts that arise.
How do we get to appreciate where we are? In our daily life, when we think of our body, we usually do so with a negative connotation – a need to lose weight, to get rid of this or that, to add hair here, to eliminate hair there, and so on. The whole industry of fashion, cosmetics and thousands of thousands of beauty products thrive on this brain hypnosis of ours. With magazines and television always ready to teach us what we can or must do to look better, we practically exercise violence upon ourselves. We are taken away the right to enjoy the only real beauty there ever is - that which resides inside us.
When it comes to an illness or chronic pain, we also tend to add negativity to the situation. We get to see ourselves through the lenses of the condition, connecting everything to it, and identifying fully with it. We think of it as MY migraines, MY scoliosis, MY pain. When it comes to states involving mental dimension, we even BECOME the labels, so the identification goes as far as I AM phobic, I AM obsessive compulsive, I AM moody and so on. Burdened by these false identities, many people come to yoga to do “their best” to get rid of an illness or to quickly improve their body condition. The truth is that doing one’s best starts with the lesson number one: reconciliation with the present reality.
Then how do we change?
The energetic openings experienced in yoga bring about a more positive outlook to the world. Coming to a place of acceptance is not a denial of the situation. It does not mean to force positive thinking upon oneself. Rather, it is recognition of the situation/condition for what it is, preferably without labels. This recognition means becoming aware of all those thoughts that accompany the condition, thoughts that make things worse or at least seem worse. Such thoughts usually have to do with the past or future. They render the person unable to see that the condition is what it is, but that their true nature is beyond whatever ailment or limitation the body and mind are experiencing.
With mental and energy opening, this extra, psychological pain (worry, guilt, and condemnation) created around the physical condition can give way to peace and love. Without extra psychological burden, the person is not becoming passive. On the contrary, she or he can become clearer about taking action in the right direction. And he or she can start to let go of the idea of the condition being the essential part of them. The identity created around it can start to dissolve.
This is how the act of honouring where we are at any given moment takes us to another dimension of being in the world – dimension of inner peace – which by itself, sooner or later, brings about healthy changes in our lives.

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