I apologize for the cliché theme this month, but it was the perfect ending to the NPR interview described below and spoke to me in terms of my yoga practice as well as what speaks to me off the mat.
In a recent episode of, On Being, Krista Tippet interviewed Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author, Isabel Wilkerson. Their conversation was about the current relevance of Wilkerson’s book, The Warmth of Other Suns, which examines the migration of six million southern African Americans to northern U.S. cities in the 20th century. The segment began with Wilkerson comparing our country to an old house. She said that old houses needed a lot of work and that the work was never done. Just when you’ve finished one renovation, it was time to do something else, and then something else after that. You might not want to go into that basement, but if you didn’t, it was at your own peril. Whatever you were ignoring was not going to go away. Whatever you were ignoring was only going to get worse. Whatever you were ignoring would be there to be reckoned with until you reckoned with it…
Those powerful first sentences struck me not just in terms of the state of our country and the history that has brought us to this point (and, I admit, the state of my own old house!), but it also struck me in terms of what else I’m facing in my life―what I’m showing up with on my mat. What am I accepting? What am I confronting? What am I ignoring?
The beauty of yoga is that you have the opportunity to examine not only what you’re facing, you have the opportunity to examine how you’re reacting to what you’re facing. You feel it in your body—maybe a pain pattern from an old injury or unrestrained zeal in your practice. You notice it in your breath—maybe it’s short and choppy or you’re holding it. You become potently aware of your thoughts—maybe there’s mental stress present from financial or relationship struggles. How do those conditions change when you accept them? Confront them? Ignore them? Can you look at all that you’re facing and the way you’re responding with compassion, maybe even with love?
At the end of the interview, Wilkerson and Tippet talked about finding strength in the discovery of what was true. “However hard the truth is,” said Tippet, “it does complete us.” Wilkerson agreed with a soft chuckle: “Obviously I’m not the first to say it, but it does seem to set some people free...”
What’s in your basement? What in your life are you accepting, confronting or ignoring? Which approach shows up on your mat? How does the truth, or even love (sorry for another cliché!) set you free?