Doing yoga to feel better and other innocent mistakes

Posted: 27th November 2017


By: Juliet Fay

Doing yoga to feel better and other innocent mistakes

I do a bit of yoga now and then.

At the first sense of tightness in a muscle, my whole system used to click into ‘this isn’t how it should be’ mode and at once the tightness in my body increased slightly and a corresponding tightness in my mind emerged.

But one time I saw it. I was doing it again.

I was wanting what showed up to be different to how it was. Thinking what showed up – tightness in a muscle – was not okay because it didn’t feel okay, or didn’t match my definition of okay which is ‘easy, happy, light, effortless.’

I noticed it and let it be and the tightness faded in my mind and body. 

Not feeling okay, is NOT a problem

I saw once again the persistence of the illusion that is oh so common. The innocently misguided notion that not feeling okay is a problem.

Based as it is, on the mistaken idea that we are only okay if we feel okay. This innocent misunderstanding leads on to a whole heap of other misunderstandings.

So if I don’t feel okay, there’s a problem that needs fixing, so I have to look for a solution. So we start looking….

It must be because I need to be/have/get/do/feel something else. That what I am/have/got/do/feel right now is simply not good enough/wrong/inadequate/bad.

This innocent misunderstanding is the root of a whole series of follow on thoughts, feelings and sometimes actions that generally create suffering of one sort or another.

They create suffering because we are at odds with what is. Resisting it. And paradoxically causing it to persist and often increase in intensity.

Have you ever noticed what you desperately want rid of in your life (feelings, people, circumstances) has a way of hanging around like a bad smell?

Why does the belief that we need to ‘feel’ okay to be okay persist?

Because we think we are what we feel. 

We are not.

We are much, much more than that.

How do we see through this illusion?

The way to clear up this misunderstanding is when we realise okay-ness doesn’t come from feelings (at all, ever).

The folly of seeking okay-ness in our feelings, or in other things like our relationships, our work or in any stuff out there, is, that all those things are subject to change.

They are all impermanent

The feeling of okay-ness we seek from those things can only ever be temporary, fleeting, apt to evaporate.

Worse, measuring ourselves by whether or not we feel ‘okay’ means we are forever destined to grade ourselves with an F for failure because we can never keep the feeling of okay-ness that sometimes, at random, passes through us.

Okay-ness is built in

Each of us has the potential to realise that okay-ness doesn’t reside in our feelings, but in fact lies far, far below the surface of our thoughts, feelings and moods.

And in fact okay-ness is not a feeling at all. It is a state of being. It is an awareness. 

When we realise this, we can relax, stop obsessing about how we feel and come alive more and more to the wonder of what is.

Then feelings begin to matter far less and we can embrace any feeling (emotional or physical). Tightness in a muscle becomes, not something to worry about but simply something to notice and get curious about. 

If the only thing people learned was not to be afraid of their experience, that alone would change the world.

Sydney Banks

‘Doing’ yoga becomes not about trying to feel better in my body but simply about embracing and getting curious about whatever shows up in mind, body or spirit while ‘doing’ yoga.

When you see the truth of the absolute, unchanging, constant, timeless okay-ness of that which allows you to experience your thoughts, feelings and moods, then okay-ness is no longer something you strive for, something you search for, something you try to grab and hold on to. 

Okay-ness just is

It’s your natural state and it is present whether or not you are aware of it.

And feeling happy or sad, up or down becomes not a measure of who we are, not something to fix or change, simply a different flavour of being human in that moment.

An experience we get to have because we are here in this human existence. Paradoxically the more we embrace what is, the richer our experience becomes and the more it flows. Opening ourselves to what is, we get to feel, to really feel, in the raw, all of it, the whole gamut of emotions.

From searing loss that takes your breath away to belly laughs that have you bent double, and a flood of compassion that carries in it the sorrows of the world. Opening to these experiences while anchored in the deep knowing of our okay-ness brings a wonder and awe at the fact of aliveness. 

The invitation is simply to be and do

And in our being and doing to expand our awareness and surrender to the aliveness, the animation, the soulfulness of everything, in every moment.

And in that surrender to invite more aliveness, more beauty, more wonder, joy and being-ness into our lives and the lives of those we touch.

“What we are talking about is learning to live in the present moment, in the now. When you aren’t distracted by your own negative thinking, when you don’t allow yourself to get lost in moments that are gone or yet to come, you are left with this moment. This moment-now-truly is the only moment you have. It is beautiful and special. Life is simply a series of such moments to be experienced one right after another. If you attend to the moment you are in and stay connected to your soul and remain happy, you will find that your heart is filled with positive feelings.”

Sydney Banks

Next time the thought occurs to you to stretch your body, do some breathing exercises, move into a yoga pose, what if you simply do it? Do it and embrace all that arises in that doing, and wonder at the aliveness that allows you to do it and moves you (inside and out).

I’d love if it you’d share what this post brings up for you.

I’m Juliet Fay, based in West Wales, UK, a Marketing Geek and Three Principles Facilitator. If you’d like to connect with me, click here to get my e-news with my latest writing, events, programmes and meets ups and you’ll receive my e-gift, ‘Plagued with doubt? A simple way through’.

 To learn more about the Three Principles, as articulated by Sydney Banks, ask to join Love Your Life Again (moods & how to survive them), a free Facebook group I host. This is an extension of the work I do at a local mental health charity facilitating conversations with members, staff and volunteers.

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