I have no idea where I heard that statement: “Find ease in the pose.” I know it was during something to do with yoga (class? discussion? no idea), and I know that I respected the person saying it enough to listen to him (read: more likely a swami from India than Jane Doe, the yoga teacher at the gym – no offense to Jane Doe).
I remember either hearing or using it a short time later, while I was trying to remain in the downward-facing-dog pose for what seemed like FOREVER. My arms were shaking, my shoulders burned, my CHEST was even shaking a little. (Not so much with my legs, which have always been stronger by FAR than my upper body.) And I was determined to hold that pose for the full 3 minutes. (Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? IT’S NOT. I SWEAR.) And I heard that man’s voice float through my head: “Breathe deeply. Find ease in the pose.” I thought, “EASE? WHAT ease, you idiot?!” Then I remembered that I was trying to be enlightened, and so I took a deep breath.
I focused all my attention on my shaking arms. I imagined that I was getting smaller and smaller, and I put my whole consciousness into the shaking muscles, all the way down deep to the bone and watched from the inside. I didn’t try to stop them shaking, I just . . . noticed that they were shaking. I lived inside the shaking. I noticed that my shoulders burned. How interesting. Let’s go deep into there and see what’s going on. Deep breath. Arms, still shaking. What a peculiar feeling that is, if you really stop and FEEL it. Deep breath. Almost done. Now my shoulders are shaking. I wonder if they’ll give out? (Oh, I need to pay attention to that so I don’t take a header into my mat. Note to self: release the pose before you eat floor.) Deep breath. Still holding? Ok, so you’re not going to die from it. Deep breath. Still shaking. Still upright (well, downward-facing, but you get the idea). Aaaaaaaaaaand, that’s three minutes. Relax.
It was an interesting experience, and one I’ve used on various occasions since then. Find ease in the pose. Find ease in the discomfort. Make friends with it. Hang out there for a little while. It won’t kill you, though it seems like it might. When your muscles are shaking and your heart is pounding and you don’t think you can take it anymore, just . . . SETTLE in your head. Calm your thoughts. Mentally dive deep into the shaking muscles and focus there. Don’t try to stop them shaking; just live in them for a little while. You know how if you stub your toe on something really hard in the dark, it seems like your WHOLE BODY is living in your big toe? How it seems like no other part of your body exists right then? It’s the same thing (only voluntary). Focus on those shaking muscles the same way. Sink down, all the way into the center of the tissue, and just hang out there. You’ll make it longer than you think you can.
Recently, I’ve been applying (with varying degrees of success) that principle to my life in general. Crazy voices running rampant? Find the ease in the discomfort. Terrified that everyone at the gym is LOOKING AT ME, OMG?! Deep breath. Relax into that feeling. Just notice it without agreeing or disagreeing with it. Feel like skipping dinner or eating everything in the house? Just breathe. Find that space where I can just hang out in the ether without doing either one of those things. Eat a normal dinner, and look for that ease while the crazies scream through my head. (I once heard someone refer to the Head Voices as “wild dogs running loose in your brain.” I thought that was a pretty apt description.)
It’s a form of detachment, really, but one that I sort of “got” instinctively, more than “count your breaths” or “distance yourself from the feeling.” The idea of diving INTO the discomfort, of embracing it without succumbing to it, was somehow easier for me to understand. Maybe that was because I couldn’t NOT embrace it, since the more I ran from it, the more it chased me.
I’ve been applying it in bits and pieces. At first I was afraid that if I embraced those feelings, they would take over. If I embraced the desire to binge, I was afraid that I would binge bigger, harder, longer than ever before. So for me, the key was really the phrase, “Find EASE in the pose.” Because the bingeing wasn’t about ease; it was about escape. But that feeling of EASE, that sinking into the abyss, without fighting it, without engaging in it, just NOTICING what floated past me in the dark – it sort of buffered me against the worst things, and made them all more . . . I don’t know. Manageable?
All that to say that it’s not comfortable. It’s not easy. But if I can find the MOST comfortable place in that space of discomfort, I can mitigate the damage. I can move forward against my self-sabotage, against the crazies in my head. I can see them, acknowledge them, and not get sucked in by them.
I haven’t gotten to where I can maintain that headspace, but I’ve been hearing that phrase a lot in my head. It’s getting easier.