Today my happiness about returning to the studio for teacher training was balanced out by my frustration with the incredibly dry, frigid weather that won’t leave New York City and my uncanny ability to succumb to a sinus cold every six months. It’s incredibly challenging to remain present and aware when your head feels so clouded and your eyes feel so heavy… and shifting from right side up to upside down dozens of times in asana practice wasn’t of much help either.
Today illness was my mental obstacle. Illness, dullness, doubt, negligence, laziness, cravings, misperceptions, failure and instability are the nine distractions of the mind acknowledged in the philosophy of yoga. They create obstacles we must overcome to return to our true selves.
While illness is one of the more obviously physical elements on the list, it links to the others rather seamlessly. For example, as my head is clouded with my physical illness, it also manifests an intellectual dullness and lack of focus. It can make one negligent and even lazy as the body copes and tries to heal. From this point of instability, it’s even more difficult to evolve in one’s yoga practice.
These obstacles aren’t necessarily a bad thing. They exist to challenge us, to test us, to make sure we take the time to think about what we’re truly capable of.
Now to be honest, I have a very difficult time thinking of illness in this fashion. I’m a bad patient, I don’t deal with physical discomfort and weakness well, and I get agitated with my body for falling ill in the first place. But that leaves an awful lot of room for improvement with this particular mental distraction, doesn’t it?
Which one of these obstacles are you finding yourself up against lately? Are you admitting to it for yourself? Does it come easy or is it rather difficult? And are you taking steps to overcome them? Yours might not be as obvious as my sniffling and nose-blowing was to my classmates today, but I’m positive that it impacts the way you live. And I think that makes it something worth thinking about.