The hardest part of any contemplative practice (Yoga, Meditation, Embodiment, Intimacy) is tolerating ourselves.
It’s not finding the time, being disciplined or finding motivation – for me, the challenge is being intimate with myself and tolerating what arises in that intimacy.
Basically dealing with my own shit.
Because there’s nowhere to hide when you go within. It all gets exposed and at times in my life, it’s been unbearable.
I can understand why a lot of people quit or don’t bother because it’s hard work. And the rewards aren’t instant. Often I feel worse for feeling my feelings before I feel better.
The alternative to tolerating oneself is to ignore it, fight it or cover it up with food or alcohol. But the shit doesn’t go away, it just festers. It’s the source of much unease, tension and stress.
When you start journeying inwards, be prepared for everything to come up. A constant stream of mental and emotional content. It’s like watching the worst movie ever, but you can’t look away because you’re the Director.
So how do you deal with it?
I fought for such a long time and I just thought I wasn’t trying hard enough.
If only I could just push through, if only I didn’t have all this shit to wade through…
This is what I told myself. That the chaos and the shit were problematic and that it shouldn’t be there.
Fighting it was so exhausting that I stopped. And instead just let it be there.
And this was a turning point.
It requires so much courage to face your shit and allow it.
To be with yourself, to feel yourself and allow it all.
It seems too simple, too obvious but in reality it’s so f***ing hard to do.
This is the real skill. This is the barrier between turmoil and contentment.
It requires so much compassion. It requires so much patience. It requires all my strength to allow rather than fight or control.
Giving permission to the experience rather than controlling the outcome has deepened my practice and my understanding of self.
I take my hat off to the people who do the inner work, who can be intimate with themselves and allow it all.
Yoga isn’t about mastering the pose, it’s mastering the Self. And the only way to achieve this mastery is to do the inner work, become intimate with ourselves and allow whatever arises as part of our experience of Self.
It is the ultimate test of my yoga skills. And far more challenging than any asana.
No one can do the inner work for us. It’s something we must do on our own and in our own time. But there are ways to navigate the inner space and techniques that make it a little easier to bear (I won’t lie, it’s still not easy).
Navigating the Self is part of the Intermediate Yoga Course starting in October.
Keep up the inner work.