By Scott Masterton
I had a wonderful yoga class last week…not wonderful because I was graceful, flexible and extremely present. Rather, it was wonderful because I was awkward, stiff and my mind and breath were doing an offbeat white boy’s jig.
Our bodies are where we live, our home in the truest sense of the word. And like the wood and stone, four-walled structures that we pay for, shovel the walk and occasionally paint, our body/homes get cluttered. They become depositories for the things that we collect… “A place for our stuff” as comedian George Carlin so correctly labeled the American house. But unlike a house cluttered with old magazines, clothes that we won’t wear and boxes of unused Christmas presents from Aunt Martha, our body/mind gets cluttered with things less tangible: old thought patterns, beliefs that no longer serve and most damaging of all to the livability index of our body, resentment. As children, these things never accumulated. Children process things naturally. When they have pain they cry, when they are hungry they get food and when they are angry they express it fully and physically and move on. Children don’t learn to label others as bad or wrong until those around them teach them about such things. Interestingly, the process of “socializing” children is really no more than a process of conditioning the human animal to no longer process their emotions and experiences at the time that they are manifest. The loss of this natural, God given ability leads to the clutter in our bodies, a clutter that eventually becomes disease (literally the lost of “ease”).
We can “clean house” though from time to time if we listen very closely to our own bodies and internal dialogue. “Your Body speaks Your Mind: Decoding the Emotional, Psychological and Spiritual Messages that Underlie Illness” By Debbie Shapiro speaks directly to this. Your body is your unconscious mind…literally. Aches, pains and discomfort are signs that you need to go in and clean house; sweep out all the little corners, find those dust bunnies, throw out the old magazines, get rid of the clothes that no longer fit or are no longer in fashion and take a big breath. As much work as this all sounds, it can be accomplished with a yoga practice and meditation or some other activity that puts you into a different zone and asks a little more of you than what is comfortable. It’s not all fun and games. In fact it usually sucks hauling all that old crap out of basement, it can be uncomfortable and exhausting work…but it’s infinitely worth it. This kind of regular housecleaning can keep you from being sick and re-awaken you to the miracle of your own existence.
It allows for space.
Something I discovered was that even though I have a regular meditation practice and yoga practice I was still accumulating “junk”. “How could this be?” I thought, “I’ve been doing the work.” The reality of course, is that when you practice exclusively by yourself you tend to avoid those areas that scare you; those messy basements or hard water stained toilets that you will just get to next week. You avoid the Asanas that you most need (the ones that you suck at) in favor of the ones that are most comfortable. You don’t do the meditation that brings you face to face with your “demons”…in other words you procrastinate in order to avoid the real work, in favor of what is known and comfortable. That’s why it’s best some times to go take some classes and allow a teacher to take you down the roads that are not your favorites, those roads in the words of Robert Frost “not taken”.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
“The Road Not Taken” – Robert Frost
Scott Masterton is a 6th degree black belt, certified yoga instructor and former United States, Super-middleweight kickboxing champion. He is passionate about teaching, writing and his family. You can find out more about Scott by visiting his website www.MeditationBliss.com.
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