Practice, practice, all is coming. Have you ever heard this quote? It’s a popular mantra amongst yoga teachers and practitioners to help inspire us, and our students, to keep coming to our mats. It seems to promise that through diligent practice the beauty of our lives will unfold and blossom open. Indeed, the tradition of yoga offers methodologies that make us feel good in our bodies, minds and emotions. To help us live with purpose and to thrive. However, what we seem to conveniently forget is that before we can get to a state of enlightened awareness, we need to go through some dark shit.
When we practice, ALL will come. Not only the highs, but also the lows. The pain and the suffering we’ve locked deeply inside will come. The unprocessed anger at those that have done us harm will come. The young child who feels unworthy will come. Oh, and the fears will definitely come. All must come so that we can shed those layers that burden us.
And there will always be layers to shed. Just this morning, I rolled out my mat in my living room and did my practice—asana, bandha, pranayama and meditation. You know, the usual. Nothing felt noteworthy. Ten minutes after completing my practice, I was fixing breakfast. Again, the usual. I was struggling to get the package of lavash open, when I sensed something swell deep inside of me. Like a deep-sea behemoth surfacing from the depths of my past, my anger erupted suddenly and violently. Before I could think, I reacted, and sent the lavash flying into the wall opposite.
Wow. What the hell was that?! I mean seriously. I just did yoga! This behavior was not uncommon. TEN YEARS AGO. The quickly ignited anger felt familiar but old and a bit feeble. The anger lacked the strength and sustaining power it once had. It was gone as quickly as it had risen. In the past I would have fed my anger any morsels of pain I could gather, keeping her strong and her fiery appetite satiated. Today I simply looked at my emotions with curiosity and a bit of humor. Yes, indeed all does come.
The true measure of spiritual growth is not how little pain or suffering we feel, but how quickly we let it pass through us when it does surface. To not let things cling to us, weigh us down and impair our vision or decisions. To allow what needs to surface, so that we can release it from our bodies. Only in the letting go is there room enough for the beauty inside to fully unfurl.
But make no mistake — Practice, practice, and ALL will come.