Normally I start each blog post with a sutra, but this month, I am starting with a word. Samyama. It means the capacity that endows us with the necessary comprehension to affect change. This concept is discussed in THIRTY different sutras! This shows how much the yogis wanted to get to the heart of suffering. The cittas (chatter/junk) of the vritti (mind) were a large part of their work and study.
The way I see it, this month’s theme, Resiliency, is the conscious act of not giving up. T.K.V. Desikachar, a world renowned yoga teacher and son of T. Krishnamacharya, describes Samayama this way….
“First, everything we perceive is fact, not fiction; reality, not illusion. Second, everything is subject to change. By influencing the order or sequence of change, characteristics that are of one pattern can be modified to a different pattern. Samyama is the capacity that endows us with the necessary comprehension to affect such change.”
Why is this concept so important? One guarantee in life is that every morning we wake up, we are a part of life. We can choose to live it or have it lived for us, but either way, we’re in it. Even if we choose to stay in bed all day, we are living, but not to our full capacity. The other guarantee in life is that difficult things happen to all people. No one escapes the darker parts of living no matter their age, wealth, personal status, occupation, etc. These two constants are where my discussion of resiliency is going to begin.
As a teacher, my job and responsibility are to introduce healthy concepts to my students. My toolbox includes self-awareness, breath work, physical movement, mantra and meditation. I cannot force change onto my students. I can’t make change happen for them. I can’t fix their situation through my teachings. I can encourage them to recognize where they can move to a healthier place. They make the choice. Some of my students stay “stuck” in a grinding pattern of hopelessness or suffering for quite some time. I encourage them and work with them as long as they will allow me. The concept of resiliency is one I encourage most often. The way we “look” at our lives, the way we “look” at what happens to us has a DIRECT affect on our psychological, emotional and physical health. For instance, I have a student who has a number of physical limitations, but her outlook is extraordinary. She chooses to honor her body where it is. She isn’t angry about her situation. She is choosing to live the fullest and healthiest life she can with what her body is capable of each day. That is a living definition of resiliency. I have many students in different areas of the spectrum of resiliency. It is insp
iring to be among them!
On the flip side, I work with students who currently feel as though they don’t quite have the flashlight to get out of the “dark cave” they’re living in. My commitment to all my students is to offer them a number of ways to “see” things differently. At the end of each session, though, it is their responsibility to choose a modified thought path or action. Samyama is yoga’s way of describing the tools used to choose hope. To choose optimism over pessimism. To choose to live and love themselves no matter what their circumstances. To choose to move through something rather than stay stuck. To choose to get out of bed when they can. My goal is to provide an avenue to practice resiliency during their yoga practice, meditating on it, having a mantra about it, or breathing to change physiology to affect positive thought outcomes. All of these things and many others can assist in a journey to a healthier, more whole person.
Life gives us many opportunities to practice these ideas. Life can be hard and my perspective is that’s not a bad thing. It just is truth, and each of us has choice ~ there is always choice.