How accepting life as it is will allow you to experience it more fully

Not all that you experience in life will seem positive. How you deal with it, how you think about it afterwards, how you encode your experiences will determine how positively you feel about them. One definition of suffering is expecting your experience to be different from what it is. Everything occurs in the present moment. There is no past or future, only now, and everything that is possible to exist exists right now. It is only possible for you to experience right now, so whatever is happening, it is important to start by accepting it all for what it is. Failing to accept the present, or actively trying to avoid it, can cause suffering. This is true whether you experience something that is out of your direct control, or just think harshly of yourself, like that you are not living up to your own expectations.

My yoga practice has taught me a lot about this. The other week I went through this process and it was both interesting and transformational for me personally so I thought I would share it here in case you case you can find a way to let it help you redefine your experience of the present into a more positive one.

The reason yoga can be really transformational in this way is that when we connect with our breath and practice yoga positions with awareness we are practicing being present. This sometimes brings down defenses that we may have set up to help us avoid the present moment. If you have ever had this experience in yoga, you possibly didn’t want to practice that day. This is why a regular consistent practice, however often you personally can mange it is so important. Sometimes it’s the days when you think you don’t want to practice that you stand to gain the most benefit from it.

As I practiced, I noticed I was feeling a bit fed up. I breathed and observed this feeling, and realized that I was frustrated that I was not living up to my own expectations in one specific area of my life. I realized that although I may be able to change the future this is how things stood right now. I learned to accept this real version of myself instead of the one I thought it should be.

I find that as I practice acceptance and move through my practice there is a shift in the feeling. As I accept it, it loses it’s power over me and I become more present and experience it for what it is – and it really isn’t that bad after all.

My next step in this case was to discover how I could work on this aspect of myself. It led to some really positive changes for me. Sometimes you can’t change a problem so accepting it is all that is necessary. As you learn to accept life as it is, you experience each moment more fully and realize how amazing life really is.

Much of this can be simplified in the following Buddhist quote

“If something can be remedied
Why be unhappy about it?
And if there is no remedy for it,
There is still no point in being unhappy.”
Shatideva

How has yoga helped you to accept yourself, just as you are?

The Real Moment

As some of you know, a couple of months ago I stubbed my toe badly on a Hoover and had to take some time off work.  As I travelled back from my Mum’s house in North Wales, I began letting people know that I would not be able to teach on Monday.  I was a bit disappointed because I love my job but I could barely walk so that was the way it was.

Once I had sent some texts out to those of you in my text group, and made an announcement on Ashtanga Yoga Liverpool’s Facebook page, I resumed reading a book by Brad Warner, Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock Monster Movies & the Truth About Reality

This is the first book I have read by Brad but I have been curious about him for a while.  Brad is a Zen teacher who is also into punk rock, he works at least during the time scale of his Hardcore Zen book in the monster movie industry in Japan.   He writes  about Zen in a direct, simple and humerous way.  He can be fairly opinionated which is unusual in spiritual teachers but I like his direct approach.  His blog can be found in the right side bar of this blog or here.

I was reading his book on the train, in pain and maybe a little frustrated I came across this line

“Suffering occurs when your idea about how things ought to be don’t match how they  really are.”  Brad Warner

Hmm, what a great one liner.  How true.  As I sat on the train I reflected that my suffering mostly came from my brains interpretation of the pain.  When I stopped and observed the pain for what it was, sensation and lost the stories in my head my situation wasn’t so bad.  I was on the train home after a lovely weekend with family.  I had the day off, I could have some me time.

Since that moment on the train, whenever I have caught myself sad, frustrated etc,  I have worked instead on acknowledging what the moment I am in is actually like, rather than what I think it should be like.  We could spend our whole lives waiting for that perfect moment in our heads or we could be in this one.  The above example is not a particularly challenging life event but if we work with minor problems I believe it will get easier to apply this wisdom to bigger ones.  Yoga and or meditation helps us to more present in these moments so that we notice them and stand a better chance of actually being HERE.

Have you read anything interesting recently?