In case you haven’t watched any Golden State Warrior basketball, let me just tell you it’s been the year to watch! Losing their championship title in the finals last year to the Cleveland Cavaliers, made them take some stock into what they have and what they don’t have and invest in the areas that showed weakness. As a result, they brought on Kevin Durant, a monster seven foot tall forward from another team called the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Warriors now had ultimate star power and had a very long season in which to prepare, practice, edit, gain strength and familiarity with each other and hopefully win right up to the same point this year, game 3 of the finals, where they had lost last year in the finals, game 3. The whole season, their entire strategy, the reason they spent millions and brought on this one figure, KD, was for this game – and in the final seconds, the investment paid off! They won by 5 points and ironically, it was Kevin Durant’s shot at the end that sealed the deal.
The Bengal Tiger
Lately, I’m noticing how much TV (or Netflix) shows I’m watching. I absolutely love America’s Got Talent and World of Dance right now. I text friends while I’m watching, (which is fun), and find myself always crying with each episode. I think the “TV strategists” out there have locked in to something that works in making for Good TV. It’s a story. Each individual on the show (with no star power) has a story that took them from the dark to the light and each was able to express that emotion in an artistic way. The viewer heard the story, yes, but also shared in the experience of that emotion as they performed.
The Bull Dog Meets Bengal Tiger
There are a myriad of correlations these two stories illustrate with our yoga practice. Yes, each situation needed “bulldog” determination and bengal tiger type strength. And, each needed to exemplify will power, self-control, patience, and ultimate concentration and focus. These two scenarios also needed to play out for a long time and build the repetition, keep with the moment, gain familiarity and muscle memory with a “don’t give up” and keep “trying” attitude. But there’s more.
It doesn’t deny the suffering. Ugh. Such distasteful words and probably an arousing emotion that makes you not want to read this anymore or at the least not want to feel that it truly is there for us. What a mistake to deny the very thing we all will experience many times over in countless ways. It’s probably THE reason that I came to Bikram Yoga and I bet if you sit and narrow it down, that it’s also THE very reason you came to it, too.
Years ago, before the first studio opened in 2003, I bought a great art piece from Potpourri in Burlingame. They carry art from local artists. It still sits in my office. It’s a beautiful bronze coated image of a woman in a fetal position on her feet – think Rabbit posture with feet flat on the ground. It’s rainbow colored and big enough to catch your attention when you walk in. It exudes an emotion of sorrow and yet, also one of nurturing and love. Years later, a student gave me a small wood figurine of a Buddhist huddled into himself as he is praying for the sorrows of the world. It immediately reminded me of my art piece and how yes, it represents the suffering out there and the need to own, pray, nurture, and grow from that soil. Buddhism too, knows not to deny this part of our human nature.
We are the Beacon of Light
Keep in mind that to detach from suffering is good as it can help you see more clearly. Even stating that it’s karma or what goes around, comes around, as that too can help you cope and maybe see that as a reason. But your Bikram Yoga practice is a strategy that works with you to grow from the suffering as the only way out is through! It’s terribly hot, it’s soaking humid, it’s long, it’s a terrible teacher today, it smells, it’s the same thing I did yesterday, it’s lack of hydration, it’s lack of sleep, it’s lack of air, it’s lack of flexibility and so on. Yet, how dare the teacher “save” you with shorter postures, cool air right at triangle, or annoying comments of how it’s all okay. It’s not! To dismiss is to miss the point entirely. What grows from HERE is what self-realization is all about. Last night I heard a little clip on Facebook Live catching Bikram stating at a Teacher Training lecture that yoga is a revolution of spirituality and similarly, in the yoga studio retail area, there is this great t-shirt that says, “no mud, no lotus.” Suffering is the civil war within that catapults GREATNESS (nothing mediocre which is not what you are here for!)
The Warriors went home last season and didn’t say, “Okay, we’ll correct some things and try harder next year.” This is all well and good (and mediocre). Instead, they made some BIG decisions confronting their suffering and mixed that soil up to handle foul trouble of Draymond, low scoring nights when a slump sets in, set up new screens they didn’t have etc… and didn’t look back. They kept the tempo all year and committed to the decision despite any doubts – as the only way out is through.
Similarly, on America’s Got Talent, a gal who lost her hearing at age 18 with a career headed into singing, came out on stage and sang better than many that can sing! She takes off her shoes and feels the pitch through the floor! Simon Cowell, highest critic of all, gave her the golden buzzer not because he felt sorry for her but because she deserved it. When we take our suffering and make it a component of our character it becomes the beacon of light, which attracts, moves, and inspires others. THIS is the lamp of your life dispelling your darkness and the darkness in others as well!
All You Have is Now
Take mine: I lost my mother to Alzheimer’s when I was 33 and she was 54. I lost a best friend at 32. I lost a sister at age 9. I lost my close friend and manager, Chris just 2 years ago. Loss is my suffering and loss is my teacher. The soil (or mud) that I sit in attracts a lot of gratefulness as I don’t dismiss the smallest of moments and the smallest of gestures. In fact, I go over the top when it comes to my birthday ensuring I make that moment a month long and deliver to my friends closest to me the gift of what’s most precious right now: time.
I left my corporate life to follow a dream because I realized life is short and you better do now and opened BYSJ. Each decision I make is done with some aim but mostly fire and I don’t dwell on what could have been. I’m still writing my lotus story because I’m still suffering, and my time in the room muscles me up for coming through. YOU are too. Look at your suffering. Don’t play around but go through. I think if you think hard enough, you’ll see that your Bikram practice is nudging you to accept YOUR soil and SOAR!