Equanimity is one of the most telling sequences in Journey Into Power to observe as a teacher. The sequence consists of Eagle, Standing Leg Raise, Airplane, Half Moon, Dancer, and Tree Pose; the balancing poses. Some students sink right into the poses: Unwavering drishti, or gaze, grounded with their feet rooted into the Earth, unmessable with. Others fight to keep their balance the entire time. The telling part is not that some students lose their balance. It’s the reaction to losing their balance that says so much. Their faces paint the story of the internal dialogue that’s going on inside their head. Some students shrug it off, no big deal, and simply begin again (A-GAIN!). Regardless of losing their balance, they are TRULY practicing equanimity by meeting their practice where it’s at without any drama. Then there are the other students you can see fighting the poses so much. Holding their breath, deep furrowed brow, struggling and becoming frustrated when they come out of the pose after a few seconds before abandoning the pose altogether. This is the sequence I think of when we are told, “How you are on your mat is how you are in life.”
It’s funny how when we decide to stop resisting so much, things get easier. So much of our personal dramas (if not all of them) are truly choice. If we would just relax with what is and meet life as it meets us rather than meeting it with a giant wall we’ve built for ourselves we wouldn’t have to work so hard all of the time. After all, a wise person once said, “The only difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.”
So why do we resist in life in the first place? Repetitive patterns of thought have created unnecessary baggage in our lives. We hold onto everything- memories, conversations, difficult situations, relationships- packing them away in a dark suitcase we carry around day after day, over and over again. They’re like the outfits you might need on vacation and never wear, just taking up space and weighing you down. Some of us have packed things so deep in our suitcases we forget they’re even there. Meanwhile, every day we wake up with breath we wake up with choice. Choice to just drop the damn baggage. It’s heavy anyway and getting in our way! It takes a shift in vision to change. To understand that we are the ones choosing to hold onto what does not serve us.
Our eyes need to be open to the big picture that is our life, not just the one scene we find ourselves replaying. A big part of this is dropping what we know. All the negative self talk, stories that we’re not good enough, that something’s wrong with us, that we’re worthless… these are all ways for the ego to keep us small. In reality, our thoughts aren’t real. Our thoughts are just thoughts. Just stories we tell ourselves because “It’s what we know.” So if our thoughts are just stories, then we have the power to write whatever story we want to. We all have an inner critic and an inner best friend. It takes awareness to take a step back, recognize and remember that both exist together. In moments of self-sabotage or demeaning inner chatter ask yourself what your inner best friend would say? And if you can’t think of anything positive to say to yourself ask yourself what you would say to your best friend if someone ever directed your thoughts towards them?
Losing our balance is part of living a balanced life. By shifting our vision and dropping what we know, we free ourselves up to just be. We don’t need to have all the answers all the time. We don’t need to be perfect (especially since the holy land of “perfect” doesn’t exist anyways). We just need to relax into what is. Breathe. Open our eyes and set our gaze. Really SEE. Once we stop fighting, once we learn to trust and just be, things will balance out exactly as they’re supposed to.