As we continue the exploration of creating a space for healing, let’s briefly recap some of those tips. First, we ensure that we find somewhere that we feel safe. This can include talking with a trusted confidant, a community where you can be yourself, or simply moments of quiet in your own private corner. Eventually it may be all of the above but take your time finding what fits for you.
Within those safe spaces we allow ourselves a regular, even daily practice to invest our time and energy to explore where we are. This can be journaling random things that come up, sharing your thoughts or story with others, or having a regular yoga and meditation practice to be present and observe. This is the time to open ourselves up to feelings of vulnerability to practice compassion and not judge what comes up. This is where we find the steady calm among the chaos around us.
We allow ourselves to experience that which this safe space cultivates with the intention of healing and meet ourselves as we are, where we are. Maybe it brings up old wounds. Maybe trauma we thought was healed has new layers to explore and address. Maybe this is where we finally see the shame, guilt, or fears we hold on to in the dark not wanting to share or let anyone see. Now is the time to do the work and this is what we’re discussing today.
Halfway through the Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga we arrive at Navasana, also referred to as “boat pose.” Depending on how much effort has been put into the first half of this practice this posture can feel incredibly tough. In fact, this pose can show up in lots of different physical practices at different times and it IS tough! It just seems to stand out in the Primary Series as it is only the halfway mark–a lot of work has been done to get here and there’s still a lot more work to go before rest.
I have wonderful and inspiring groups of regular students who come to my classes on a weekly basis and they really put in the effort. It is a beautiful and humbling experience to watch them explore, focus, and grow. What’s important to remind all of us and anyone who begins the practice of yoga, of self-discovery, of personal growth, is that we all have to start somewhere and it doesn’t matter what that looks like…but none of it will happen on its own. These students really work and what they can do now physically, mentally, and emotionally they could not do the first time around.
There is a tendency when faced with this posture to not want to try. There are so many variations we can attempt to work where we are but for some reason this one makes people want to give up completely. This pose like so many others for most of us just won’t happen on its own and the same goes for our own healing. It takes time, energy, and consistent effort. In our Western Culture we much prefer the quick fix. We want the pill or procedure that “corrects” the problem. We want things to be “easy” and when it isn’t we see it as a “bad” thing and therefore anything that requires effort is something that has to be endured rather than explored.
If we waste our time concerned about how much work is required to see any results we will stop ourselves before we can start. If we waste our time worried about the judgement of others it is just another excuse to not take care of ourselves. If we waste our time finding explanations for not trying our best we are still making a choice. It’s important that we are honest with ourselves about this. We will always make the time and put in the effort to do the things we really want to do no matter what.
And once we arrive to do the work every moment in this space is an opportunity to try. We begin where we are, we make the effort to do hard things, we pay attention to our physical, mental, and emotional responses so we can address them as necessary and most of all we just keep going.
A child learning to walk doesn’t suddenly begin walking—they work for it. They don’t worry about what they look like or that they fall over, they just start and keep trying. It doesn’t occur to them that there’s an option to not try or to give up. The desire to move forward motivates them to pull and push and lift without the muscle to hold themselves up and this is exactly how they build the strength. It is quite simply the process of trying over and over and over again, it is in the effort, it is in the journey that yields results.
Whatever it is we’re searching for, reaching for, hoping for, we have to be willing to do hard things. We have to be willing to put effort into the journey to build strength, flexibility, and resilience of body, heart, and mind. It doesn’t matter what it looks like to others—you matter. It doesn’t matter if others hear you cry, see you struggle, watch you fall—you matter. Decide that you matter for yourself, commit to being the best version of yourself and once and for all just do the work.