Friday, April 13, 2012

The Shadow Side of Practice

My early years in yoga found all sorts of blissful paths, the ability to slow and be present, and the ability to calm. Then, when I became more serious, old hurts and painful pieces of my life began to surface. At times, I would wonder if yoga was leading me in a good direction or if it was leading to something crazy, something way down the rabbit hole.

Turns out – it led me down the rabbit hole. But that’s not a bad thing.

The initiation into yoga should be peaceful and should be calming, if only so that you have the ability to deal with the inner turmoil that inevitably arises with persistent practice. For me, suppression of memory is one of my defense mechanisms and there are all sorts of denial events in my past. Slowly, I’m uncovering the events that lead me to repeated and negative samskaras (imprints on the subconscious, habitual tendencies).

It can be painful to recall hardship, but without recollection, you may never understand a samskara and be doomed to forever repeat it. Repetition over and over and over, expecting a different result, is the definition of crazy. Thus, yoga shows it has a shadow side because we are human and we have mistakes and regrets in our past.

The beauty of that shadow is the light required to see it. The yoga practice thus opens you to light, illuminating the best about you – your divinity. Your constant connection to all that is. Your understanding that this moment is what matters and the past is just the past and the future is only imagination.

Practice eventually requires you to look at you, pleasure through the pain. The truth in this shadow is that you would never understand the light if you had never lived through darkness.

Written by Kirsten Hedden

April 1, 2012

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