There is nothing comfortable about life. Pain and suffering follow us around wherever we go. Even when we get everything we want, there is somehow an underlying hunger for something more, something easier or better. This is the nature of desire, and it keeps us just uncomfortable enough to continue moving forward.
The desire to grow, discover, travel, and transform - this is what fuels our life. This is what allows us to connect with each other and to expand beyond our own limitations. But when we are constantly in pursuit, climbing, searching, and longing to be or do something different, then we are depriving ourselves of our true nature.
When we live on-the-go all day, every day, we are essentially sending signals to the brain and body that we are unsatisfied, which only creates more tension and turbulence. Despite growing rates of hypertension, stress-related disease, and mental illness, this is not the truth of human existence. It is only a distraction from the undisturbed nature that resides within.
The physical postures in Yoga are called Asanas. They are an opportunity and active invitation to arrive within our true, pure nature.
Asana is a Sanskrit word that is often translated as “comfortable seat.” But remember - there is nothing really comfortable about life, and nothing particularly comfortable about sitting. A more truthful and comprehensive translation of Asana is “a physical seat that cultivates steadiness and ease.”
When we practice Asana, we put our bodies into physical positions that build friction. The goal is to bring our awareness to the parts of our experience that are uncomfortable - be it feelings of lack, overwhelm, or indifference. In this practice, we become more familiar with our own causes of resistance and actions that bring relief. But ultimately, none of this can happen if we are not willing to show up and to be present with whatever arises.
In every single Yoga class that I teach, I begin by asking my students to arrive. To arrive in the space, in their body, and in their seat. This might sound like a simple request, but arriving is perhaps the most elusive and fleeting sensation.
Can you recall the last time you arrived home after traveling? Do you remember that feeling of a long exhale, the feeling of spaciousness and satisfaction in your body and mind? How long did you let that feeling last - before you began unpacking your bags, cleaning the kitchen, checking email, and preparing for the next day of work or school? Many of us are so well versed in the habits of busy-ness and productivity that when we do experience the feeling of arrival, its only momentary.
But when we fully, wholeheartedly arrive, we take one step closer towards becoming more of who we want to be.
Arriving is an act of acceptance. When we allow ourselves to exist exactly where we are - when we show up and stay present - we accept authority over our own experience. And when we claim ownership of our own lives, we are no longer ruled by avoidance, denial, and attachment. Instead, we have the power to slow down each moment, to soak up the sweetness of this life, and to burn away the impurities that mask our true nature.
Asana keeps me real. It keeps me grounded. Practicing Asana invites me to see my desires more clearly, understand my own motivations, and embrace the current path that I am on. And somehow, learning how to arrive is the only way I know how to keep moving forward.
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