Most of us have at one point or another been sick in our lives. Some of us have even experienced a chronic condition or potentially terminal disease. For those of us who live with pain, yoga is more than a daily physical practice on the mat, it is a way if bringing us back into our body. Developing a dialogue with our ‘felt sense’, the intuitive consciousness of the body, promotes breath and ease of being, and cultivates an awareness for the changing sensations going on in our microcosm. This includes pain; however, as we build a relationship with our bodies we can better understand what is happening inside and come to terms with it.
While pain is an aspect of long term illness that yoga can help to overcome, it is the fear of mortality and losing all we love that is the biggest cause of suffering for all beings. This is made more tangible when the body is ill of health. This fear tends to separate us. We retreat into the comfort of the things we ‘know’; our work, our families, our activities and all that leads us to escape from dwelling on this fear. It is our ego that sends us into these patterns of retreat; giving us a false sense of security by attaching to labels, judgements and critiques of ourselves and others rather than letting go and remaining open to the unknown.
The truth is that fear can connect us. No matter our age, race or religion, we are all going to die. We are as much connected to the sun, the earth and Her elements and to life and to death, as we are to each other. There is a tremendous freedom and grace in accepting our mortality as a part of life’s journey.
The practice of yoga helps us to become aware of this deep interdependence among all beings, and enables an exploration of the unknown by being present in our bodies. By focusing on the breath and opening to areas of the body through movement, we can also stay open to our pain and fear, and fix our attention on what a gift it is to be alive.
Yoga means union, or oneness. The fear that separates can also join us together; for by being only one, one can know no fear, separation, or loneliness. There is only one, and it is incomplete without you.