This past week I had the opportunity to take part in a high ropes obstacle course. Being someone who is terrified of heights, it might be asked why I would willingly climb an electrical pole and attempt to walk across a metal cord less than an inch in diameter. And to that question, the only answer I have is because I felt obligated to.
Before you get away with thoughts about another person talking me into this, I must clarify that I felt obligated to myself to undertake experience. Coincidentally, in the process I had the opportunity to learn what that very often I have said as a yoga teacher: The purpose of Yoga is not about forcing yourself (your body) into a particular pose, and instead is an opportunity to allow the pose to get you into deeper contact with your body.
In this case, I could abstract the teaching to be that the purpose of life is not about forcing yourself into a particular situation, experience, or relationship, and instead is an opportunity to allow the situation, the experience, or relationship to get you into deeper contact with yourself.
More often than not, however, we feel somehow inadequate if we are unable to master a particular pose, a particular situation, or skill set. And instead of allowing that experience – whatever it may be – to bring us into deeper communion (and compassion) with ourselves, we berate ourselves and push ourselves past the point of our sense of growth, let alone comfort.
The question I have for you, the one I am hoping to ask for myself is this: In which ways are you attempting to physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually force yourself into a give situation or experience? These “pushes” don’t have to be major to be impactful, they could be as simple as refusing to take a break despite feeling fatigued.
And instead of continuing to push forward, would you be willing to take a step back and imagine that the purpose of this moment isn’t necessarily to master this moment? That possibly, this moment, and whatever happens right now, is intended to get you into deeper contact with yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, your loves and interests, your blindspots and hidden talents.
As a final note, it might be helpful to ask yourself what might be gained or lost in your attempt to constantly force yourself in a particular situation/relationship/experience instead of allowing the situation/relationship/experience to unfold and in doing so provide you the opportunity to get into deeper contact with yourself.