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Yes: Not a Word, A Choice

September 30 2013
September 30 2013


“I can’t do yoga-I’m not flexible, I don’t have time-for anything.” These are just a few examples of resistance to beginning a yoga practice that I have heard through the years.  I say “resistance”- not “excuses”.   Excuses are  used to defend an action, or non action.  Resistance is an opposition of some force, thing, or flow.

We can find resistance in our life in many forms.  Sometimes, it may present itself as a feeling-anger, disappointment, STRESS.  There is truth in the saying “pain is inevitable, but suffering-is a choice”.  We are all faced with  emotional challenges.  We suffer when we resist what is.   We must trust that this too shall pass, in order to allow ourselves to move forward.  When we attach ourselves to painful events in our life-when we make these events “our story”, we are choosing to suffer.

Try this short exercise paraphrased from Tara Brach’s ‘Radical acceptance':
  • Allow yourself at least 15 minutes, in a quiet place where you will not feel rushed.

  • Sit in a comfortable upright position, close your eyes and begin noticing the rhythm of your breath.

  • Bring to mind a current situation that elicits a reaction of anger, fear, or grief.  It may be a rift with your loved one, power struggle with your child, a hurtful behavior that you now regret.  The more fully you get in touch with the charged essence of the story, the more readily you access the feeling of your heart and throughout your body.  What is it about this situation that provokes the strongest feelings?  You might see a particular scene, hear words that were spoken, recognize a belief you hold about this situation.  Be especially aware of the feelings in your stomach, chest and throat.

  • In order to see firsthand what happens when you resist experience, begin by experimenting with saying no.  As you connect with the pain you feel in the situation you have chosen, mentally direct a stream of no at the feelings.  No to the unpleasantness of fear, anger, shame and grief.  Let the word carry the energy of  NO. Notice what this resistance feels like in your body.  Do you feel tightness, pressure? What happens to the painful feeling when you say no?  What happens to your heart?  Imagine what your life would be like if, for the next hours, weeks and months, you continued to move through the world with the thoughts and feelings of no.

  • Take a few breaths and let go by relaxing the body, opening your eyes and shifting your body posture a bit.

  • Now call to mind that same painful situation you had previously chosen, remembering the images, words, beliefs and feelings connected to it.  This time direct a stream of  YES at your experience.  Agree  to the experience with yes.  Let the feelings float, held in an environment of  yes.  Even if there are waves of no-fear or anger that arise with the painful situation-that’s okay.  Let these natural reactions be received in the larger field of yes.  Yes to the pain. Yes to the parts of us that want the pain to go away.  Yes to whatever thoughts or emotions arise.  Notice what is happening in your body as you say yes to this experience.  Let the energy of  yes soften and open you.  What happens to the unpleasantness as you say yes?  Does it get more intense?  Does it diffuse?  What happens to your heart as you say yes?  What would your experience be like for the next hours, weeks and months to come, if you could bring the spirit of yes to the inevitable challeges and sorrows of life?

  • Let your intention be to say a gentle YES to whatever situations, emotions, sounds or imagines may arise in your awareness.

This week’s theme is BHAVATU (ba-va-too)  the Sanskrit word for yes.  There is something wonderfully bold and liberating about saying yes to our entire imperfect life and ending the resistance.

In Loving Kindness,
Chris Longman


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