As is my habit on Friday morning, today I attended a 9:30 practice. As we moved into one of our warming poses, which involved a lunge with a bent back leg and knee on the ground, I felt my thigh turn into a massive ball of cramp. Since I have rheumatoid arthritis, and pain tends to be bilateral, I wasn’t shocked to feel the same on the second side. And then later I noticed that my ankles were also cramping and hurting.
My first response to all of this was to think, “Oh crap!” I was immediately out of the starting gate with a critique of my body and my practice. Whoosh! Self-criticism! Zip! Shame! Wheee! Annoyance! But then, an interesting thing happened. A little voice in my head spoke up and said, “so what?” And I actually stopped to consider it. So what if I couldn’t stay in a lunge very long. So what if straightening my leg into a arm balance wasn’t going to happen? So what if I had to take a child’s pose? So. What. It just doesn’t matter. No one cares. The poses are of the practice, but they are not the practice. And, as I reflected on this a little, my retroactive hearing suddenly connected it with what my instructor, Micki, had said just moments before about cultivating contentment (santosa, or santosha, or santohsa) on and off the mat. Be content with where you are. Try and then be ok with what the outcome is. Mmmhmm.
On this path effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure. Even a little effort toward spiritual awareness will protect you from the greatest fear.
~ The Bhagavad Gita
This is a great things for me to remember in the rest of my life as well. This week, I’ve been upset and thinking (about a few different things), “I try so hard and still _______” – fill in the blank with what doesn’t happen that I think should or what does happen that I think shouldn’t. There too, I need to embrace my inner snarky pre-teen and say “So what?” It’s ok. It is what it is. Try and then be content with what happens. Let go of the struggle.