A Yoga Sutra to the Rescue

I have been trying to juggle an existence between hustling to get myself feeling established in my new home city, and trying to chill out by enjoying the beautiful diversity of trees, Santa Ynez Mountains towering above as the clouds clear, the Pacific ocean not too far away, and delicious meals with new friends. The days pass by and the balance feels so precarious to maintain, and sometimes absolutely elusive.

I haven't made a big move in many years and it slipped from my mind that it is stressful to leave the comfort of known family and friends, established work relationships, and even familiar geography. As I am trying to hold space for the feelings that such a large life transition can entail, little obstacles appear under foot almost daily. Small perceived injustices grow in size, and shape in my consciousness. Every inconvenience can feel like the universe possibly has a personal vendetta against my current vulnerability, winding my emotional spring tighter.

In exasperation, I picked up Nischala Joy Devi's book The Secret Power of Yoga and opened it to a random page with the hope of finding some comfort or illumination. This is what I found: "When presented with disquieting thoughts or feelings cultivate an opposite elevated attitude. This is pratipaksha bhavana." (Yoga Sutra II.33). I felt simultaneous gratitude (illumination sure enough), frustration (how would this be possible?), relief (this was a suggestion to try), confusion (again, how would this be possible) and finally curiosity (i can just try it).

I suddenly realized I was making things harder for myself specifically by sharing in conversations with loved ones about minor discomforts. It is hard to not blame someone when things are going exactly the way we might like. It boiled down to gossip on occasion. I was concentrating through thought and conversation on what was not working, and inevitably, if only in my mind transgressions grew worse.

In the last week, every time I felt like someone was negatively affecting my life, I would simply hold a little space (however tiny it is), to question if this Sutra could apply. And so far, new perspectives that are changing the way I can approach and literally feel about uncomfortable situations, are opening up to me spaciously and graciously. It is work, and I am still struggling, but a little more easefully and joyfully so.