Throughout our philosophy reading this week and at the very end of class today, we explored the three components of yoga (self-discipline, self-study, and devotion to your superior self) and the five internal afflictions that get in our way of this experience (ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion, and a clinging to the physical body). Summing up each of these components in so few words obviously doesn’t do their full meanings justice, but I wanted to hone in on one affliction specifically that I feel has led to the bulk of my struggles in my adult years… and actually led me to my yoga training in the first place.
Aversion, in this context, isn’t so much a “strong dislike” of something. It’s more about our tendencies to resist what’s unpleasant in life and seek an escape rather than facing these undesirable situations head on. It influences how we think, behave, and view ourselves in many of our experiences. When I’m in the moment, I find it challenging to catch myself doing this kind of thing. It’s very easy for me to notice others in the act, but it always seems to sound a bit different coming from my own mind and out of my own mouth. Looking the other way, the way that seems more appealing, has become second nature to me.
When I was fed up with New York, I complained and daydreamt of moving to a Caribbean island or to the Spanish countryside. When I was frustrated with friends, I mulled over the hard conversations necessary for weeks (and sometimes months) without actually sitting down and having them. When I was dissatisfied with my job, I stuck around feeling miserable hoping that something better would come along. When I was laid off and looking at job boards 24/7, the postings disinterested me so much that I got fed up with the process and blocked it out of my mind… and signed up for yoga teacher training instead. (It was the right decision in that example, but I had to throw it in here.)
At some point, you have to own up to your choices — what they are, why you’ve made them, and if they were truly the right call in the end. A lot of mine in the past five years have been the choice not to choose. That definitely isn’t the way I want to live my life, and until recently, I didn’t truly realize how often this avoidance autopilot takes over when I’m feeling stressed or upset. The intention may be good, but the result leaves me lacking ownership over my life, which is ultimately what I need.
So today, I’m checking myself. I know I have idealist tendencies. I know I have a better grasp on what I don’t want in life than what I do want in life. But I also know I need to challenge myself daily to work on figuring that out — not stress myself out about it, not set a deadline for when the answer should arrive, but actually face it and consistently try.