Learning To Stay Put When The Going Gets Rough

I had one of those days last week in which so many things happened that I was hardly able to process them. My husband and I got great news; a friend suffered a tragic loss; another experienced heartache; work moved at a rapid pace; and my family traversed the ups and downs of caring for elderly loved ones. As I rushed through these things, I realized I didn’t want to pause and experience these moments, especially the more difficult ones.

Yoga and meditation encourage us to be open to all sensations, but it’s often much easier to relish in the good and avoid the bad, just like we often do in our yoga practice. I could play in Trikonasa (triangle pose) for hours, but the second it’s time for handstand, I suddenly need to run to the bathroom. But if I don’t eventually face my fears, how will I ever learn to sit with them, accept them and move forward?

Jack Kornfield, the beloved and wise Buddhist meditation teacher, encourages his students to be in every moment that arises. “To bring things to resolution,” he writes in A Path With Heart, “means we must go right through them. We must be able to look them straight in the eye and say, ‘Yes, I can be open to this, too,’ meeting them with an open heart that neither grasps nor resists them.”

Eventually, Kornfield says, we reach a state of “wonderful peace” that is also known as “high equanimity.” You can find numerous meditation exercises on Kornfield’s Web site that can help you begin to cultivate equanimity, peace, and loving-kindness in your life. These can help us all, Kornfield says, “look at the horrors and joys, the gains and losses, with an equal and open mind.”

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