A wise man once praised the virtues of witnessing the workings of our minds, thoughts and emotions. BKS Iyengar's stern and encouraging voice booms inside my head whenever I think about persistant effort and dedication as the only path to changing samskara or habits and reactions.
“You cannot hope to experience inner peace or freedom without understanding the workings of your mind and of human consciousness in general. All behavior both constructive and deconstructive is dependent on our thoughts. By understanding how our thinking works, we discover nothing less than the very secrets of human psychology. With this right perception and understanding of our minds, the door opens to our liberation, as we go through the veil of illusion into the bright day of clarity and wisdom. The study of mind and consciousness, therefore, lies at the heart of yoga.” (Iyengar)
It all sounds easy: watch your mind and you will gain an understanding of all that you are and life will improve. Honestly, this technique of allowing myself to feel and acknowledge my thoughts and patterns is draining. It seems self-centred. Too, there is pain in realizing the drone of many thought patterns. It doesn’t feel great to admit how much time has been lost in obsessive thoughts or dwelling in anger.
Identifying emotions and reactions and triggers has got me feeling blue and defeated. Why do I choose this gruelling method of coping and why do I wholeheartedly encourage others to use it as well? Because, at the same time as feeling defeated, I surprisingly do not feel bound. I don’t live in a glass case of emotion. Anymore.
I used to be in denial. I’m starting to see how denial held me… And as life does – things fell apart and then they came together again. Only, on one blessed instance of these dramatic waves, I chose to look within and work on changing myself. No more blaming, no more resentments, no more drama. The name of my new game is “Radical Acceptance” as coined by Tara Brach. Iyengar speaks to the process of creating change in a rational way and Brach supports the heart through it all.
Living in the present moment and in immediate feelings, without stories or justifications, requires radical acceptance. It is radical to accept our circumstances because the tendency of the mind and ego is to pine for the future or the past or for something different. It is radical to change our habits so drastically but it is worth it. We begin to see how quickly our feelings shift. Our thoughts shift. The weather shifts. Relationships shift. The reality is that nothing is constant. In radical acceptance of this constant motion, I realize I’m not in control of anything but my own reactions. Now that is a happy and empowering discovery.
I do not want to remain stuck in one place, in one state of mind and being, so the way out is in honouring flux, evolution and growth. Part of this cycle of growth is exhaustion and questioning.
I simply hear it. I watch it. I feel it. And in an instant, it vanishes. Leaving me lighter and freer.
“The process of becoming unstuck requires tremendous bravery, because basically we are completely changing our way of perceiving reality, like changing our DNA. We are undoing a pattern….we’re naturally going to have withdrawal symptoms – withdrawal from always thinking that there’s a problem and that someone, somewhere needs to fix it.
The middle way is wide open, but it’s tough going, because it goes against the grain of an ancient neurotic pattern that we all share. When we feel lonely, when we feel hopeless, what we want to do is move to the right or the left. We don’t want to sit and feel what we feel. We don’t want to go through the detox. Yet the middle way encourages us to do just that. It encourages us to awaken the bravery that exists in everyone.
That’s the beginning of growing up. As long as don’t want to be honest and kind with ourselves, then we are always going to be infants. When we begin just to try to accept ourselves, the ancient burden of self-importance lightens considerably. Finally, there’s room for genuine inquisitiveness, and we find we have an appetite for what’s out there.“ (Brach)