Last week the A/C wasn’t working in the building where I teach one of my classes. It was hot, sticky and very definitely uncomfortable. The overall consensus was “let’s cancel class” among the group I was teaching, but something about the situation caused me to pause – wasn’t this why we practice in the first place? So that life’s hiccups don’t cause us to lose the calm, balanced disposition we’ve worked so hard to find?
It is easy to feel peaceful and calm in a yoga studio. With the lighting just so; temperature, music and ambient noise perfectly controlled to allow us to find space; this is the perfect training ground to explore the quiet space in our minds. But, if we only feel peaceful in a yoga studio, well, that isn’t much peace is it?
Swami Satchidananda said, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”
How do we bring our practice alive off the mat? Sitting in rush hour on 285, staring at the email that came in at 5:59 p.m. that can’t be pushed off until tomorrow, or while your kids do those adorable little things that make you want to scream – can we practice peace and equanimity in these moments?
At Kripalu, they teach an acronym that can help us both on the mat and off… BRFWA
Breath. Relax. Feel. Watch. Allow.
Start playing with this on your mat. In the middle of practice, in any pose, check in and notice your breath. Relax around the posture. Feel your body – the sensation, the energy, the emotion. Watch what arises. And, most importantly, allow what is there to just be – without judgement or needing to change it.
And, then, off the mat. Maybe standing in line at the grocery store. When you are stopped at a red light or washing the dinner dishes. Practice BRFWA and see how it creates a pause before reaction. It allows you to notice and experience how you feel without having to spiral into a bad mood that affects the rest of your day.
Life will never cooperate with our expectations, but our practice can allow us to enjoy a little more during these WTF moments without having to go into WTF reactions. Worth a try, right?