are you poisoning your practice?

‘Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.’ ~Rumi

i like to think that i’m a naturally laid back person that takes things as they come without getting too emotionally agitated. but, to be honest, one of the many reasons i continue to practice yoga is that it helps me maintain a calm veneer. because, and i think some of this is genetic, i do have a bit of a tendency towards massive frustration that can sometimes manifest as anger. and recently i’ve been confronted with it because i’m living with a yogi (temporarily, thank the gods) and they’re such assholes when it comes to making sure the mirror is pointed back at you.

recently, while training i realized that traceurs can also be assholes when it comes to exposing you your mind state. i was working on a wall run i hadn’t tried before and a very nice traceur was offering helpful hints, that became comments, then un-useful comments, then he became downright @#$%-ing annoying! because the last thing you need when you’re trying to figure out how the hell you’re going to make it up that wall is to have someone looking over your shoulder and commenting on every wrong move you make. so i became angry. and i think i might have said something un-yogic to him. and that made me even angrier. and then he said…‘that’s where i want you…angry.’

anger or krodh is one of the 5 evils or poisons that one seeks to avoid because it interferes with the realization of our higher, spiritual selves (the others are lust, greed, attachment and ego). his comment shocked me and then, sadly, made me more angry. i’m not giving up 5 years of consistent yoga practice just to blow the thin tether on my centered presence on some stupid wall run! in addition, i’m not going to give into the idea that this article raises, which is that women tend to have more emotional reactions to training parkour. comments like that also make me angry. grrrrrrrr, i’m so angry now! for 2 reasons:

1. anger is not where i want to be working, i want to be fueled by tapas, which i wrote a very nice article about here. tapas is that internal fire, heat or flow that makes you go out and make it happen! it’s a positive force that can be harnessed to overcome obstacles (physical and mental). don’t confuse this driving force with anger. anger is a poison, it is destructive, it is blinding, and it will eat away at you destroying self-confidence, self-esteem and in the end, you will find no joy in your practice. because instead of seeing an obstacle to overcome, everything just becomes an obstacle. i know this because i continue to practice yoga as a therapy against this perception.

2. women are perceived to be more emotional because we haven’t spent our entire lives suppressing emotions and burying them deep down inside or calling them things like ‘anger’ when they could be described as a positive, motivating force, like ‘tapas’. i do forgive Tom, not only for being a man and a non-yogi, but because he adds:

‘So express your emotions: cry, scream, get angry if you need to, but don’t let them conquer you and turn you down, ever… Giving up is never a solution. In the long run, efforts are always rewarded.’ ~Thomas Couetdic, Parkour and the Female Practitioner

(i don’t think this advice is just for the ladies.) if you read ‘tapas’ instead of ‘anger’ this comment makes more sense, because he says the effort is always rewarded, so one is working positively. however, anger, even when poisonous, can give you moments of clarity. i never would have written this post if that comment hadn’t got me thinking about how i want really want to work. i don’t want to see that wall as a big, hard obstacle; something to break myself against. i don’t want to waste energy on anger, or see my inability to overcome an obstacle it as an insult to my ego. i don’t want to attach my self-worth to being able to get over that wall. these emotions work in opposition to the goal.

in the end, it’s easier and more productive to be pursuing the 5 virtues when i’m practicing: truth, compassion, contentment, humility and love. the truth is, that wall is pretty damn high, i’m ok with that and will approach this obstacle with a realistic knowledge of my skill and love of myself and my environment. if i can approach every obstacle with these positive emotions, i know i’ll succeed, whether i get over the wall or not.

so, going back to the quote from Rumi above, don’t let that fire that you feel be one of anger. instead, let those people practicing with you fan the flames of tapas, helping you realize your passion and love for your practice.

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