Thursday, 8 January 2015

Why Saying 'I Miss You' Might be Harmful And More Thoughts On Impermanence and Clinging and A Few Other Things

From an interesting blog

I am pleased to be back in Canberra although it was tough to leave Sri Lanka.  One day I hope you can all join me on a visit there.  My classes start this Saturday at 9am and Sunday at 10am with Tuesday at 6.30am all by Lake Burley Griffin. 

Moving between two countries where you have equally strong ties with friends and family is tough.  One thing I try to catch myself from doing is feeling or saying that I am 'missing' something.   

For me (it might be different for you) the language and sentiment around 'missing' things can lead to efforts to 'cling' to what is not there and ultimately to suffering.  

A wise person once said to me 'I won't say I miss you.  Instead, I will I remember the good times and be thankful for them.'

The trick is to be able to reflect on happy memories without clinging to them.  This can be difficult and takes practice.  I am still practicing.  

The same wise person reminds me that it is the clinging rather than the memory that can easily lead you on the path to sadness and regret about how things are not the same anymore.

I am no expert.  I am still working things out.  But I am struck by how this idea comes back to understanding the impermanent nature of all things.  That we are not the same from moment to moment.  And to treasure the present moment without dwelling on what happened before or worrying about what might (or might not) happen next.  

This contemplation is a part of my yoga practice.  I do not press these things in class, but over time you will come to feel and understand and know them for yourself as you dedicate yourself to your practice.  

You will feel your body different every day, even if you do the same postures.  Some days there is stiffness, some days freedom.  

You will notice your thoughts can change.  Or at least that your thinking about your thoughts can change.

To me understanding change and impermanence is a big step towards helping us towards acceptance and letting go of clinging and suffering.  

I feel sometimes people talk about acceptance in a way that is the opposite of this.  Making grand statements about accepting who they are and how they are (often demanding everyone else love it or leave it at the same time) as if there is no opportunity or possibility of change (not everyone but you will have seen certain things for sure like this if you are on Facebook!).  Whether you appreciate it or not, and whether you want to or not,  you are changing all of the time.  

This is not to say that we cannot feel as though we are rigidly stuck in many aspects of our lives.  

We get into habits and many of these habits can be harmful.  Set patterns of moving, set patterns of thinking. 

Understanding the impermanent nature of all things, perhaps we can start to reflect on what it is we might be clinging to that does not allow us to get out of the ruts towards a happier and healthier life.  Are we clinging to fear, to loss, to grief, to anger? 

This is just as important to reflect on in your physical yoga practice.  If you are practicing regularly and not seeing or experiencing any change then it is time to ask yourself why your practice is not changing or evolving.  

If you cannot see why then ask for help.  

So many of us get into trouble because we fail to recognise that we need help or don't know who to ask or what to ask.  

I am not necessarily advocating yoga teachers as people who are qualified to help you with any ruts (especially for those with serious psychological, neurological, physiological, or physical issues)--though some might be.  It is important to remember that yoga teachers vary widely in their qualifications and experience and you should perhaps look closely at how they live and move before deciding whether they are the right person to give advice that might be better given by a professional.   Yoga teachers do tend to have a wide network of contacts though so they can be good people to flag something with and they might be able to refer you on!

Looking forward to seeing you soon.  We still have some places left for our April Bali retreat so be in touch ASAP!

Happy and safe practicing.
Much metta,

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