Simple. Simple. Not so simple.
I want to be able to predict the future and control the outcome because in my fear I think I know what is best. I think I have “the right answers.” Living in the uncertainty and flow of life can be very difficult for me. I want to know my marriage is secure. I want to know my health is strong. I want to know my daughter will be safe. And I want to know with absolute certainty! My journey and experiences have taught me that when I NEED these things and work to make sure they happen, everyone—including myself—is miserable. I must give control to my higher power, to God, and trust that no matter what happens I am not alone; my higher power is with me every step of the way.
I was in school all weekend for Yoga Therapy. I’m currently in Yoga RX II at LMU here in Los Angeles. The weekend was spent talking about the Yoga Sutra and mediation by Lorin Roche. It was an amazing weekend spent letting go of so many ideas and expectations I have about mediation. Lorin is 70 years old and been teaching mediation for 50 years. He is an amazing teacher and one of the most present people I have ever been around. I asked him, “How do I teach my 6-year-old daughter to mediate?” He suggested having her tense up her muscles as tight as she can, and then let them go. A simple body scan of tension and release. So, as any good parent does, I thought I would experiment on my daughter in the hopes that our bedtime routine might become a little easier and not the battle it can be. I had her lay down as I started explaining my newfound yoga mediation that I wanted her to try. She tightened up and let go as we did the body scan. As we worked through the meditation, I checked in with her, “does this make sense to you?” She said, as a matter of fact, “yes, it’s just like when you are afraid, and then you let go of that fear!” It was so simple and straightforward and yet so profound to me.
For so much of my life I have walked around in fear, clenching my jaw, my fists, just white knuckling it and thinking I have some control over other people or circumstances. If I just do “the right thing” I can get the outcome I want. I can force the outcome I think is best. There is a tenet in yoga practice called Svadhyaya, meaning “self-study.” It means I must examine my life. What is working and what isn’t? It’s simple awareness. My daughter is so aware and connected to her body and how it reacts to emotions. She could say without hesitation that tensing up her muscles and then releasing them was what happens when she is afraid and that the release of that fear is a relaxing feeling. I can see how my fear and desire to control and create certain outcomes in my life have paved the way for me to operate with constant tension in my body, mind, and spirit. I am literally and figuratively walking around tensing up all my muscles. The answer is easy: just let go of your fear! As one of my yoga teachers would say, “Simple. Simple. Not so simple.”
This weekend as I explored mediation and allowed myself to examine some of my fears and hopes and desires, I was given the space to be honest and look at myself without judgment, if just for a moment. Lorin posed a few questions to us to use in our meditations: What do you want to say YES to? What qualities of prana (life force) do you want to welcome? The concept that I could let go of my judgments and fear and just open myself to stillness, patience, and love was mind-blowing to me. It wasn’t that I had to do more or be more to experience these qualities. I just had to embrace them. It transformed my mediation practice.
These are my questions for you today:
- What are you afraid of and trying to control?
- What awareness can you bring to your fear?
- What qualities do you want to embrace in your life?