Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Snakes and Ladders

This being a yoga aspirant is a game of snakes and ladders. Just when we think we are making great progress, there is a snake and we seem to slide down and away from the goal.

This image was found in an interesting article about the game. See a link at the end of this article.

However I begin to think that there is an illusion in this. Those setbacks are perhaps another form of progress.

I don't think it matters how we define the goal.

We ask you why you have come to yoga when you first visit our studio.

"Flexibility, strength and wellbeing"

"Feeling better"

"De-stress, health and wellbeing"

The answer comes in different forms but they are mostly along the same lines.

As we come into the practice we might discover how to breathe more fully, and with this comes a greater feeling of wellbeing.  It might even be a ladder, propelling us faster than we imagined towards that goal.

As we undertake physical practices that stretch us out, we slowly become more flexible, but the process might also release all kinds of tight areas in the body and this might also lead to a greater sense of wellbeing.  We might not still be able to touch our toes in a seated forward bend but we feel lighter, freer, more full of wellbeing.

Then comes the day when we are doing a practice and we suddenly feel really, really sad.  We have no idea why.  Sometimes the feeling persists and we carry it with us out into the world.  Is this a snake?  Have we just lost ground and been slid away from the goal?

I believe it can depend on how we greet this experience. If we can take this as a signpost we might welcome it, asking "why are you here, what do I need to take notice of here." The answer might be a revelation you can put into words, like "Oh, I remember that time in my childhood when...." or it might not, it might just stay around awhile as a feeling. Just welcoming it and exploring it may bring interesting resolutions.

So could it be said to be a setback or a part of the journey to feeling better overall, to a deeper sense of wellbeing.

It might not be sadness, it might be anger, frustration, irritation, or some other emotion we could be used to regarding as negative.

Next time this happens, see if you can welcome it instead, explore it, and seek of it what it has to reveal. Be patient.  Our habits of repression may have secured things behind a thousand locks and it will take time to gently persuade them to open and reveal.

So the game of snakes and ladders might seem like two steps forward ten back at times, but treating everything as an opportunity and a messenger, nothing will take us further from the goal, only closer.

You might want to check out this article: "The Game of Knowledge taught about the slow upward path of the spiritual seeker"