Yoga Life: Transforming Obstacles
One of the most empowering yogic teachings I have ever heard is that obstacles we encounter aren’t problems at all! Obstacles are actually just opportunities in disguise – chances for us to wake up to our current situation, our contribution to the situation, and our freedom to shift our perspective and find creative ways through what others might perceive as a barrier.
This past June I was getting ready to run out the door to the airport, about to catch a flight to LA to see my teacher Sianna Sherman and participate in her teacher training. Wanting to look cute (yes always!) I stood on a chair strategically placed in my bathroom to check out my outfit in the mirror. The chair broke and I went crashing face first towards my bathtub. I instinctively used my arm to protect my face, but broke 2 bones in my wrist as I ungracefully splattered across the bathroom floor. Aside from the excruciating pain, I was devastated as I panicked and envisioned the end of my career as a yoga teacher. Needless to say, the trip to LA was cancelled as I rushed to the hospital holding my bones in place with my free hand.
Broken bones are a major obstacle when you make a living using your body and doing yoga! And honestly for a good while I was depressed, angry, upset, and (my husband will agree) I was in a very bad mood! Completely heartbroken and scared, I called one of my best friends in California. She immediately put herself on a plane and came to take care of me for a week. Since I was in a cast and couldn’t work, I had all day every day to hang out and spend quality time with my friend for the first time in ages. So suddenly my injury actually had an up side. After she left I was feeling better but still not able to teach yoga so I went on a total Broadway binge and saw live theater almost every day for a week. I did walking tours of New York, visited museums, connected with different friends, family, and students who were all passing through town. I read a few great books – fiction even – which I rarely allow myself to indulge in! I had time to meditate, study, and even re-envision the shape I want my career to take. All this because for the first time in over 15 years I was not running around town (or across country and continents!) like a crazy lady teaching and taking a zillion yoga classes per day. I may have even felt a little bit grateful…Not for the broken bones, but for the opportunity to slow down and see things from a different point of view.
I recently was reminded of a powerful teaching I once heard from Hugo Corey which basically goes like this: If you want to grow there is one thing you must do: stop complaining. Yep. Sounds simple right? Try it. For 24 hours, stop complaining. About everything! Stop complaining about the weather, the traffic, your finances, your kids, your in-laws and whatever other routine complaints and problems are just a natural part of your daily small talk. I have been practicing this when people ask me about my wrist. Part of me wants to whine and cry and say how it really really stinks! Instead I take a breath and say, “It is getting better every day!”.
Once we see that hidden within our problems lie little chances for us to wake up, pay attention, and see or do things in a different way; we are able to step out of being a victim of our circumstances and use our freedom to transform those apparent obstacles into opportunities for our own evolution.
What “problem” do you currently face? Stop complaining about it. Is there any hidden opportunity within the obstacle? Can you shift your perspective and seek a different approach? Sometimes the outer problem hasn’t changed, but your inner shift can make all the difference in how you experience it.