Want to unlock an unexpected world of possibility in your practice—and your life? Then Yoga Journal’s upcoming course The Power of Play Bootcamp is for you. Baron Baptiste—veteran yoga teacher and founder of the Baptiste Institute and Baptiste Foundation—will lead you through four weeks of meditation, asana, and self-inquiry specifically designed to spark awakening and growth. Start the new year with a powerful perspective—and discover how to put it into action.
I want to share something with you that I’ve learned about handling challenges and painful experiences. In the past, when something difficult came up, I’d focus on overcoming it. But experience has shown me that we never really overcome anything. At different points in my life, when I’ve tried to “overcome” a challenge, all I ended up with was a temporary sense of control. That’s how I learned there was a better way to move forward.
Instead by pausing and acknowledging what I was experiencing, I became able to see some of the heavier, more uncomfortable, hidden aspects of my unresolved past, things that were being triggered in a given situation. By embracing what I was feeling—pain, sadness, fear, resentment, or whatever was there—something unlocked and opened up in me. My energy shifted. It felt like something lifted and let me go.
From there, I found a freedom that let me see an alternative pathway and respond to the same situation differently. My default—and what I sense is the default for most of us—is not to pause and feel the pain and fear—experience what’s there. The default is to gloss over, ignore, or put up with the situation, pretend everything is fine. I always experience a deep fundamental shift in my being when I fully embrace what is underneath. That’s when a release valve opens, and old energy, fears, and pain release me from their grip, at least partially.
Meditation and asana are tools that have supported me in stopping, dropping in, and connecting to my own pain and fear. This is the kind of work we open ourselves up to in my course The Power of Play Bootcamp.
The next time you’re faced with a difficult situation, try these three steps:
1. Become aware.
To become aware, we need to pause. So pause and let yourself feel whatever you feel: pain, fear, resentment, shame, guilt.
2. Acknowledge the situation.
Pay attention to what’s happening. As you witness what arises without any attachment to it, you can begin to experience it letting you go.
3. Let it be.
Imagine the situation as though the universe has been trying to get through to you, but because you’ve got a lot going on in your head and are all bound up with resistance, it’s getting a busy signal. But if you relax and let it all be, another line of communication will suddenly be available for you that will allow grace to get through. Take on the practice of completely relaxing with what is and letting it all be exactly as it is, and as it isn’t. That’s the practice of santosha, in Sanskrit. Can you give up trying to fix yourself, others, and your circumstances? Whatever you want to change, don’t change it. Just let it be, and it will let you be. When we allow things to give us up, we open up a new space in ourselves—and in this new space, vital energy and possibility arise.