Crossroads

practising yoga

I’ve started to observe the pattern of my day moving like a dance… a slow waltz opens it, quickly moving into a foxtrot. Some days are more like a hip hop routine – body moving in an erratic, yet somehow coordinated pace. The rest of me trying to keep up!

If I’m aware enough I might be able to stand still for a few moments and be present – before leaping into the next routine.

Just a little space to observe what has come before and how I am now – without thinking about the next event. Letting go of achieving and instead receiving.

Banging on about mindfulness is the next obvious point here – smelling the roses and all that. Some of us are great at it, others not so.

It’s all well enough to be ploughing through the day like this but what happens when we meet a crossroads… when the next dance isn’t on the program?

How good are you at making a decision based on the unknown? In extreme circumstance, how do you move forward from what seems like a disaster?

Do you have the right tools in your bag when you get to the crossroads?

Here’s where preparation is important – that practice you have committed to – be it yoga, meditation, surfing…that activity you do over and over again with the acknowledgement that it will be a different experience every time. Becoming comfortable with change.

How can yoga help us prepare for the unknown?

Practising yoga allows us a fluid space in which to move. As a student we may not know what the teacher is planning next – we have to trust and let go. We allow our minds this fluidity and become present with tapping in to what feels right for us. The mind can stop judging and allow the body to be free to move into an unusual space or new experience. We become receptive – without expectation.

The more we do this, the more comfortable we become with what is unfamiliar, with what we can’t control or don’t know yet – this translates on and off the mat.

Through the sthira (steadiness) and sukham (ease) of our yoga practice and with appropriate effort we are able to release mental and physical resistances.

As a consequence the extremes or dualities of life may affect us less. This isn’t to say we don’t feel but perhaps we are less inclined to react!

This is the lesson of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras in Chapter 2, Sutra 48.

‘As a consequence of appropriate practice, extremes no longer affect the mind.’

Which brings me back to that crossroads. Which way do you go? Do you take the shortest route or do you look for the road with the smoothest surface? Maybe your path is the longest one but how can you know?

That’s the thing about crossroads.

We can’t know where we are heading.

But if we have experience in being able to let go and be ok with the unfamiliar we may just have faith to choose a path, stay on it and let the rest be revealed.

by Jill Harris