Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Darkness and Light

By Healingyoga

"Sometimes what you don't say
Makes all the difference
Sometimes you find your own way
Without interference

It's not all darkness
It's not all light
You don't have to fix this
Sit with me tonight..."

     --Sit with Me Tonight lyrics, Garrison Starr 

I tend to look at the bright side of things. This annoys some people, of course. Here I am, little Ms. Mary Sunshine, Glass is Half Full, Silver Lining girl. The truth is that I have a lot to be happy about. I'm lucky. I'm blessed. And I've seen the power of focusing on gratitude and the positive.

Years ago I was in a relationship that wasn't exactly thriving. During my daily walk in the woods, I would think about this relationship. Or, more correctly, I would focus on what I didn't like about this relationship. Interestingly enough, my focus rested on my partner and "his failings." After about a month or two of this, I noticed that I was not only feeling quite negative about my relationship (and my partner) but I was also picking fights with him. That's when I decided to shift the contents of my thoughts during my daily walk to things I liked about my relationship and my partner.

A funny thing happened -- I became happier in the relationship. No, it didn't change all of the issues overnight. But what it did do was help me to recognize all that I had to be grateful for in that particular relationship with that particular man (and I stopped picking fights with him). It also gave me a nice dose of clarity -- it wasn't my partner being wrong or bad or to blame for everything. I played a role too. A big one. Anything I could have "blamed" him for could be turned back around to me as well. 

These days I tend to see the gifts in the "bad" things that happen. Yep, little Ms. Mary Sunshine is at it again. I wasn't always so sunny, of course. I used to get seriously annoyed when things didn't go my way. I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it. Then I noticed something veeeery interesting. When things didn't "work out" in the moment (it seemed like I didn't get what I wanted), the events that followed turned out better than what I originally wanted. The more aware of this phenomenon I became, the more it seemed to happen.

This has only continued to ramp up as the years have passed. The past year and a half has been one shining example of this principle at work. Just last week something "bad" happened to me. After the initial ouch of the situation wore off, I found myself confronted with a lesson that I've been desperately needing to learn for years now. It was this particular situation that turned on the light bulb fo me. The truth is that the "bad" thing is actually a gift. The situation gave more than it took and I am feeling extremely lucky right now that things didn't work out the way I was hoping. I know in my heart that 6 months from now I'm going to look back to this situation and delight in how it worked out.

The past few weeks there have been some dark things happening in the world of yoga. I've refrained from writing about these things. Scandal and tragedy happen. I've heard a lot of  "See, yoga is bad for you" sentiments. I'm not going to address the failings of yoga teachers or their egos or their possible mental illness or their many transgressions. I'm not going to talk about inherent dangers of yoga or possible pitfalls of the practice of yoga. It's like the song above says, "It's not all darkness. It's not all light." (Hmmmm...I could apply this to politics right now as well, eh?)

My favorite commentary on the scandal comes from blogger Linda who calls herself a yoga subversive. You can read Linda's final post on this topic here. The post contains a quote from a respected friend. Here's a small excerpt:

"...Personally, I’ve found that it’s possible to combine the best of multiple approaches, although this is also a perilous path and requires much wisdom, diligence and vigilance.  Even then, you can never really know how it’s going to turn out, as everyone is different and what works for one, may not turn out so well for another. When it comes to organizations, I’ve mostly tried to avoid them, as they come with a lot of baggage and tend to crystallize their belief systems.  However, I’ve also found that they can be very useful if one doesn’t get too caught up in their dogma or feel too desperate to belong to something. …

Evolution is a painful and difficult process, and anyone who thinks it isn’t or shouldn’t be that way is simply naive..."

Not only do I tend to find the gift in the shit, but I also tend to steer clear of organizations and dogma. I suppose that's why I don't feel the need to defend yoga nor do I throw the baby out with the bathwater and let a scandal and/or a tragedy define the practice of yoga.

It's not all darkness. It's not all light.


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