Recently, I began going back to yoga class. I have practiced yoga, on and off since the 1990’s especially hot forms of yoga which work for me. So, in that first time back in class, the room so hot, me so sweaty, a couple of insights came to me.
At one point toward the end of the 90 minutes, I found myself breathing a little loudly. I just noticed it, and it changed back to silent breathing, but a memory came with it. As a child, I would often let my breathing become loud especially if I wanted an adult to notice my suffering. It could be one of my parents. Later it was usually a coach in PE or on a basketball team. It was a very unconscious thing, but by breathing loud, I seemed to be saying: notice my suffering and give me permission to stop suffering (whatever that meant at the time). And here I was, a grown man in my 50’s in a yoga class that I chose to go to, drove myself to, paid for, once again breathing loud as if to say to the teacher: notice my suffering. Give me permission to stop suffering. Do I really need someone to notice my suffering in order to take care of myself?
I looked back over that first “prodigal’s session” of yoga. I’ve been doing this so long, that I found myself observing: “I know how this unfolds. I know each pose. My body remembers where each move goes. I can hear all of the instructions I’ve been given by good teachers over the years in my head. But, where am I right now? What is my edge beyond which, right now, I would hurt myself if go there? Notice where I am right now.”
Both of these little insights seem to me a help in building, becoming and being a House of Peace in this world.
First, I really don’t need anyone to notice my suffering and give me permission to take care of myself. If I choose that route, I choose to be a victim who can only be freed by someone with more power than I do. But, when it comes to my own life, I am required to see myself, notice my own suffering, and give my own self permission to take care of myself. Magically, powerfully, transformingly, when I do that for myself, I can allow others the same space to take care of themselves. While I don’t need anyone to notice my suffering, it does make a huge difference to have a community who stands with me when I suffer. There in that yoga studio, there were a dozen other practitioners who were doing just that.
Second, I may know very well through skill and intuition how today’s path is going to play out. Or, I may be one of those who worries to no end about every bad possibility that could happen on today’s path. Both are helped only by this: be here, right now, and notice where I am. Notice where the edges of my life’s energy are and work with those. Going beyond them will only do harm. Be here, in this space now. Begin building a house of peace. Here. Now.