Control. This one word causes so much emotion, grief, fear, aversion and many other visceral reactions.
I discuss yoga, and by yoga – I mean the 8 limbs, the lifestyle, the asana (poses), the awareness, the being – with quite a few people on a daily basis. One of the most surprising things that arises often is the concept of control.
Oftentimes, the person I’m speaking with avoids the word, or avoids acknowledging the word or concept, throughout the conversation. But I see the control and desire for control, pushing into the conversation constantly. If they aren’t trying to dominate (and control) the conversation; they are trying to dominate (and control) the concepts of the conversation or they are saying how they are in (control) of their lives or about the amount of (control) they wish to exert over their own lives. Interestingly enough, I find the lack of awareness about control the biggest hurdle for them to overcome; when I mention the word, it is immediately met with denial. I then point out how they say they “want” to get into this pose or they “should” be able to do such and such. I like to imagine the seed of awareness is put into their mind at this moment, but I make the observation and continue to listen to the conversation.
The beauty of yoga, and life, is that we have very limited control – but we do have the ability to accept and respond (this is our control). When a yoga pose becomes difficult, we can choose to focus on the breath and not the difficulty. When we recognize and feel that frustration of trying to turn events into what we want, rather than what we’ve been given; we can accept and respond. We have the gift of the monkey mind, and in moments like these – we can use it to move us to our next thought with a different level of energy surrounding that thought. We can change the path of the samskaras we have created around control of an event and move to a different thought; one where we recognize that we cannot control the outcome of human interactions, we cannot control when a yoga becomes difficult and we cannot control the roads that will lead us or take us to our next adventure in life (often we won’t even know that the adventure has begun!). Accepting what is and responding to what is in a positive way can help us move toward a more yogic lifestyle.