Monday, November 20, 2006

Releasing Old Beliefs

“We build self-images and construct concepts and paradigms that feed our sense of certainty, and then we defined this edifice by bending every situation to reinforce our certainty. This would be fine if life were indeed a homogenous event in which nothing ever changed; but life does change, and it demands that we adapt and change with it. The resistance to change, and tenaciously holding on to things, causes great suffering and prevents us from growing and living in a more vital and pleasurable way.”

-Donna Farhi

Admittedly, the quote is a mouthful. I had to read it several times to finally understand her words. It is our resistance to change that keeps us stuck in the suffering cycle. In one of the studios in which I teach, I teach in a different part of the room than the other teachers. My regular students have long grown accustomed to my unusual arrangement and I had forgotten how I have rearranged the room. Today I subbed for another teacher and was fascinated watching students come in. Some smiled, found their spot, and sat down. Others were noticeably annoyed, commenting that it was “uncomfortable”, “weird”, etc. One student had a hard time enjoying class until the end, holding on to her idea of what should have been the arrangement. By the end, we were all giggling at the realization that a mere changing of the arrangement could cause so much angst. It was so very unimportant in the grand scheme of life.

Think about what our beliefs about life do to us? We all have ideas about life that we tenaciously grip, as Donna says, resisting the natural changes in life that are constantly occurring. We even rearrange in our heads what is really happening in order for the situation to fit our paradigm.

Having a yoga practice can help us to loosen our grip on our beliefs. As we loosen our bodies, the hold our beliefs have on us also loosen. Not always, though, notice I said “can help” and not “will help”. In fact, our practice can keep us very stuck in our beliefs as well. We need to constantly evaluate our practice, what it is doing for us, and shift to make sure it is keeping us open and growing.