You know those loony people who go to go to those really hard, sweaty yoga classes where the teacher will instruct everyone into some insane pretzeled-out pose and then keep them there for what seems like an inhumanely long time? I’m one of the loons.
Although sometimes I question my sanity, as perhaps you already have, it gets even zanier. I even get up really early, out of my yummy warm bed and insert myself willingly to this madness. If an alien were to visit, it might think it a touch odd to see all these folks like me brushing sleep out of our eyes and contorting ourselves on purpose.
And perhaps ever more odd to see us staying in the contorted spots rather than saying to heck with all of it and heading back to bed.
Why, you might ask, just like the alien might, do I keep going back?
The theory is that when we consciously place ourselves in challenging situations where we have to practice opening, breathing and loving through and into a serious difficulty, we are then better equipped to do it for real when life throws us the big doozies.
The theory can backfire, however, if in the midst of the hard time (the long yoga pretzel-hold, the anxiety attack, the insomnia and the broken heart), we clench down, shut down, zone out or grit our teeth to get through it any way we can.
That’s cheating by resisting. Rule-breaking by checking out.
I have my moments to be sure. There are plenty of times I want to call the yoga teacher nasty names and throw things at her. It seems like it would help, somehow, if I could let her know in no uncertain terms exactly how hard a time I’m having.
The reason I keep going back to those early morning challenge-fests is that there is something powerful and palpable about, as the 13th Century Persian mystic poet Rumi puts it, "not moving the way fear makes you move."
In the midst of challenge, you choose to love instead of shut down. Rather than contract and run away, you open and stay. Rather than hold your breath, you inhale deeply and allow oxygen to carry some lovin' to your red blood cells, on the conduit of your breath.
As another cool cat and arguable relationship master David Deida says, "As if you were soaking in an ocean of love, relax open your throat, heart, belly, and genitals to receive love's saturation. Lovingly melt your heart and body open as the fullness of this moment."
When we decide to notice it, we are indeed in an ocean of love, even during the contorted pose, the anxiety attack, the insomnia and the broken heart.
So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to open rather than close, in one of your difficult moments.
Don't endure something that's bad or damaging to you, don't pretend and don't sugar-coat what you're truly experiencing, but do practice opening into that proverbial ocean of love, even when you want to throw something at your yoga teacher.