- Lessons from a 2-year-old
- Posted 29 May 2017
Do you like speed bumps? (Or speed humps, judder bars, sleeping policemen, depending on where you are from.) I didn’t think you did. Who does? I used to dislike them like everyone, but then my two-year-old son taught me a lesson in acceptance.
Not that he is a buddha-like creature in most ways, but he still loves speed bumps (“up-downs", he calls them), even though he is now almost 7. When I would take him to daycare, every time we hit a speed bump (and there were lots of them on the way), he would say “more up-downs?” the way he would ask for another cookie. I still don’t love them, but even now every time I hit one, I hear his gleeful voice in my head and I can’t help but smile. And the speed bump no longer bothers me quite so much, even though it still slows me down, and still jars my back. In other words, pain is guaranteed, but suffering is entirely optional, and always self-imposed. We can’t avoid all the speed bumps on the road of life, but we do have the power to decide how we feel about them, whether we let them bother us or not.
Are there aspects of your yoga practice that you resent, that you dislike? Perhaps a certain pose, or class of poses (hamstring stretches, arm balances, plank pose)? This week, I want you to become fully aware of these feelings of aversion, to bring them fully into your consciousness. And then I want you to practice letting go of the negativity that (dis-)colors your perception of the world, to see if you can experience these poses for what they are, in all their difficulty and glory, without the subtext of your self-imposed suffering. And if you can begin to do this in your yoga practice, your ability to let go of your suffering may just start to creep into the rest of your life as well.
Try it now: Come into a pose you usually avoid. Listen carefully to the thoughts and emotions that are triggered by the physical discomfort of the pose. Do you experience feelings of inadequacy, impatience, fear, aversion? Observe your mental reactions with genuine curiosity. Breathe into the physical discomfort. Then practice letting go of the aversion. Be quietly present for the actual sensations without imposing your ideas about them, and see how that simple (and yet oh so difficult) act transforms your experience of the pose. Then apply that lesson to the rest of your life, and see how your perception of the world is gradually transformed, and how your level of contentment gradually increases.