Friday, August 6, 2010

meeting the edge

I sink low, hips to the floor. I breathe but I'm having trouble finding softness here – my muscles remain wrapped tightly around my bones. They're stubborn, and staying here requires more will than I was prepared to bring to my mat today. 

That's enough.

I rise out of this deep hip opener and adjust my stance to work the other side. I meet the same tightness. The same resistance. But this time I stay longer, breathing deeper. I don't find comfort but I try harder to embrace my edge rather than backing off so quickly.

It's small, but I feel some space on this side, and into that extra room walks a yogic adage I've heard more than once: The pose begins when you want to leave it.

And how quickly I usually leave.

Whenever there's work to be done – muscles to soften, hearts to open, minds to quiet and fill with peace – we will meet resistance. But overcoming that resistance my not be as hard as the first step – the real step: acknowledging the edge, the limit, the resistance, the tightness, the pain that we've found and committing to stay with it. Not run from it.

Each day presents edges.

I'm sure you know all about mine. I go on about them enough here.

The big, glaring one, the one that pulses red and oozes an unpleasant pus – is my frustration. It usually surfaces when I'm trying to navigate one storm and another crops up: Eliza careens into a tantrum while I'm dealing with a Ruthie who won't nap or Claire starts talking back while I'm trying to get us out the door or the kids start fighting in the car while traffic is bad or I'm trying to make dinner and John is held up at work and Ruthie is crawling towards the dog food and the top of the stairs and there's just too much noise in the house. Suddenly my voice is up a notch and my words snap and sting and all my grace and composure leaks out in the steam pouring from my ears.

Later, I'm disgusted with myself. I vow to slam the door in Frustration's face next time.

Next time comes and I might shove the door mostly shut but Frustration usually comes in anyway, seeping through the cracks.

It's too hard. It's the way I am. That's enough.

I throw up my hands and walk away.

But what if next time Frustration knocks, I open the door wide and let him in? Greet him politely? What if I invite him for tea and let him use my favorite cup? What if I let myself feel the frustration but work to look it in the eye, acknowledge it for what it is, name it, hold it…and stay with it until it somehow softens?

No one has an easy life. Whether you work or stay at home, whether you're a man or a woman, whether you're battling something or just trying to make it through the day, you meet your own edges. And compared to so many, I have nothing to complain about. But I don't think my fuse was meant to be this short. I think I deserve more peace than what I'm creating for myself. So maybe I'm spouting a bunch of idealistic, too-optimistic crap here. But I believe the truth in that yogic adage and that whatever moment I'm in really begins when I want to be done with it.

So come on in Frustration. I'll meet you differently this time.

[Do you have an edge, dear reader? Tell me, how do you meet it?]