Sometimes we get caught up in a current and the next thing you know we are swimming. Sometimes this is awesome. Sometimes it is confusing or scary. It is interesting to notice how we respond to these scenarios.
I used to live on the east coast and I had a house right across the street from the beach and it was amazing. I claim the Gulf of Mexico as my home, but I am very fond of the Atlantic ocean too. I like its considerable power and size and coolness and mystery. The waves are just right. It was the perfect body of water for me to relate to in my 20’s.
Once I stood at the edge of the ocean with a friend and we were admiring a boat that was prolly half a mile out. He and I used to swim together weekly. We looked at each other and looked at the boat, we smiled - we jumped in the water and swam out to the boat.
Swimming out from the shore is awesome. It is easy to feel powerful and brave. There are big waves coming toward you and you just duck and swim and get out there. I love scenarios that require courage, determination and force - that is pretty much my sweet spot. Stillness and yielding is a whole different scenario.
Once we got to the boat, we shared an awkward moment with the boaters, said hello and turned around to go back to shore.
That was a different kind of swim.
I was doing what I do - fighting the ocean trying to get back- and that strategy was never going to work. I mean…you can’t really fight the ocean. Realizing how the current kept pulling me back I just swam harder and harder until I could no longer continue with that strategy. After several moments of panic, I began to listen, to notice the ocean to see what it was doing, I began to notice my body in the ocean.
I realized that I needed to let go. I had to stop trying to control things. I had to abandon my expectations and float. The ocean would eventually deliver me to shore.
We never really know what were are going to find out about ourselves, our bodies, our environment until we take some time and listen.
When we practice yoga, remember that we can decide to participate in a flow, but always, we must be careful to not get lost in it. We have to maintain and develop the ability to listen to our bodies and decide what it needs.
This is true for yoga as it is true for pretty much every other moment in our lives.