Monday, February 22, 2010

For all the words . . .

have written a lot on this blog, albeit not as frequently as I would like. For all the words, however, these past two weeks have been intense - physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Before going into the discussion of the niyamas as I did for the yamas, I want to take a moment to recognize what may be the most important lesson in yoga, and the one that is potentially the most important for modern society, especially lawyers. For all the words we write and speak, for all our good intentions and beliefs, for all of our hard work, sometimes we get slapped in the face and kicked in the gut. Sometimes we fall out of postures, and sometimes even when we know that life has a funny way of working out, we freak out, and we fall. But just like on the mat, we can get right back into it.

These past few weeks have really tested my stress and anxiety levels. Between being extremely busy, worried about presentations, worried about work, and preparing to teach my first yoga classes, not to mention the regular stuff that comes up, life has been intense. And for all the years of meditating, qi gong, and asana, I have felt sick to my stomach, and I have not been sleeping well. But I have fallen out of asanas before. I have had bad weeks before. Tibetan Buddhist Meditation teaches that when a thought arises during meditation, you think to yourself, "thinking" and go back to the breath. There is no judgment about the thought; it is just a thought. Yoga is no different; when you fall out of an asana, there is no judgment. You just get back into it. But here is the best part - the more times you fall, and the more times you get back into it, the better the body remembers how to stay in the asana. Before long, you are doing that which you once thought impossible. Your words and practice become knowing and wisdom.

So, even on the tough days, the words have meaning. They help bring us back to the truth. Lawyers speak and write a lot of words. We are a profession defined by words. But what do we do with them? Do we use them as a means to an end? Are we careful about what we say and how we say it? Some days, we are better at living up to our words than others. We can prepare for a hearing, a trial, even a meeting with "the other side" until we are blue in the face, but when the moment arrives, we must let go and trust in our training and practice. For all the words, we must trust that all the falls along the way lead us to where we need to be.

This is nothing new. The difference with yoga is that instead of saying "when you fall off your horse, brush yourself off and get back on," yoga is the path that helps us know how to get back on. Each limb is another tool. So far, we have discussed the yamas on this blog - the first limb, the connection to others. Next up is the niyamas, the second limb. The niyamas are about connecting to ourselves, finding the peace within. Then we learn how to breathe with pranayama. Each tool helps us remember what to do when we fall, when everything seems so out of whack. The tools remind us that deep down the universe is working.

Today I went to two yoga classes, and after each of them I felt a little better, a little more at peace. And I'm starting to feel strong again, in asana, in pranayama, and those are reminders that the words are working. These thoughts that flow forth on this blog may not be the most profound writings on the planet, but they are reminders to me, and hopefully to you, that the junk that arises is just that, junk. The truth is deeper, and our words, whether about yoga, the law, our anger, our joy, our love, our pain, whatever, are the guides that keep us plugging along. 

After all, this is a practice. May your practice help guide your life to peace.

Namaste and blessings.

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