I recently met someone who reminded me of the Jim Carey character from the movie “Yes Man.” He spoke of living every day like it’s your last and how we should take more chances in life. What resonated the most had to do with our propensity for playing it safe. Some of us stick to hanging with the same type of people and continue chasing situations that are familiar. In other words, we stay away from the things that don’t fit into our life’s “box” and we get caught up in cycles. This guy said that following his divorce, he spent many years passing up opportunities to spend time with people who didn’t fit into his perceived plan while waiting for the “perfect woman” to arrive, but she never showed. In another scenario, a close friend just had to let go of her future plans when her partner decided to leave after five years together. I tried to conjure up something encouraging to say and the following quote came to mind: “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so we can experience the life we were meant to live.” We all think we know what we want, how we want it and when we want it but we don’t realize that we have to be a little more flexible and open to the flow of life in order to minimize suffering and maximize experience. We get caught up in routine, we find our safe spot and in general we don’t like to wander too far away from that comfort zone. And so it got me thinking…if we spend so much time being safe and comfortable are we saying “no” to life? How is that any different from being a bird caught in a cage? We know when we’re getting food and we’re protected from the dangers of the outside world yet we remain prisoners with wings, unaware of how far we can soar.
Yoga aims to push you to the edge. It’s meant to break the mental boundaries that bind and limit us. It’s meant to be uncomfortable at times but through awareness of breath we learn to expand and be comfortable amidst the discomfort. Someone once said, “The only thing standing in the way of greatness is our selves.” For example, forearm stand used to terrify me. I always thought that if I fell, I would break my shoulders and neck and so I never did it away from the wall. My fear needed the protection and safety of the wall and I spent a good year relying on it until I realized that I wasn’t going anywhere with that mentality. The first time I tried the pose in the middle of the room, I flipped over…and guess what? I didn’t break my shoulders or neck. The fall was actually not bad and I landed in a backbend. I fell many more times, but eventually I learned to trust and I allowed myself to play with the edge until I found my balance. When you take this concept off the mat, you start noticing how rigidity and fear paralyze progress in our lives. However, if we give into the flow, life moves through us and we become open channels for limitless experience.
Step out of the box and play!