“Find peace” … what does that mean anyway?

2014-11-22 12.15.27 copyWhile my inner thigh trembled in Warrior Pose during my hot yoga class this morning my yoga teacher, urging us to stick with it, said something which struck me: “Find peace with what is and what isn’t”.

Just at that moment an annoyingly large drop of sweat had accumulated on the tip of my nose. I wanted to pull out of the pose, wipe off the sweat, get a drink of water – anything to get me out of that uncomfort of what was, and what wasn’t. But her words struck me.

They were reminiscent of a few things that were going on in my life at that moment – like that drop of sweat, things which were hanging and dangling uncomfortably. And which simply were, without being able to be changed, even though I didn’t want things to be the way they were.

And here she was, telling me to “find peace” with it all.

What does that mean, really, to “find peace”? We throw that phrase around all the time, but what does it really mean?

I instantly conjured the idea of a grey-haired, long-bearded man heading off to sit in a large field, legs crossed, to do a few oms. He wouldn’t of cared about that drop of sweat (or all those other annoying things going on). What did he have that I didn’t when it came to finding that elusive peace?

What really resonated with me as I held that pose, legs burning, off in that field trying to find peace within the discomfort, is that “finding peace” isn’t really about finding anything. It’s about acceptance.

You can cry, you can yell and you can be annoyed when things don’t go your way – when your legs burn and the sweat tickles – but it doesn’t serve a purpose other than agitating you further, exacerbating the uncomfort of the moment. (Of course, I could have always wiped my nose in the example given, but sometimes life doesn’t give you the easy option).

I think to “find peace” you have to find a way to accept the way things are. A way to breathe out and let them be. A way to remove judgement and drop your expectations about the ways things “should” be, or “could” have been. It’s about being kind to yourself, and understanding that sometimes things are not always perfect – in fact, they generally never are.

I also believe it’s about understanding that things never stay the way they are forever. It wasn’t long before the next pose, the movement of the class pulling me through and the minutes ticking by until I was out of that hot, sweaty room and flung back into the world.

And that’s what happens in life. Things change. You move on. You will never be in the same place you were yesterday. But if you kick and scream and yell and complain – if you dwell within the discomfort – you perpetuate and elongate the process.

I cannot change those things going on in the present moment, but I can change the way I feel about and view them. Or I can imagine myself in that field any time of the day, safe in the knowlege that the passage of time, one of life’s few certainties, will move me forward past this place and into a better tomorrow.

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