~ Bouncing Back ~


When crises arise, some people flourish while others flounder. Here’s how your practice can help you build resilience.

By Sally Kempton

For most of us, pain and suffering are so intertwined that we find it impossible to separate them. When things go wrong, we may feel like victims or assume that we’re receiving karmic punishment—that we “deserve” what is happening to us. We may express our feelings or stuff them, but few of us know how to process the pain of loss or failure without getting hooked by our suffering.

A yogi, on the other hand, knows how to untie the knots that make him identify with his suffering self. (The Bhagavad Gita explicitly states that yoga is the “dissolution of union with pain.”) In fact, yoga practice is meant to teach us how to untangle these inner knots. Often, you don’t realize how much difference your practice has made until the day that you find yourself dealing with a crisis without going into an absolute meltdown. The kids are screaming or your officemates are panicking, and yes, there’s a little bit of fear and irritation in your mind too, but there’s also a witnessing awareness, an inner compassionate presence that lets you stay present with what’s happening without getting sucked into the fear or the anger.

The great spiritual practitioners all offer the same basic prescriptions for undoing inner knots: Find out who you really are, do the practices that purify your murky mind, and discover how to work with everything that happens to you. Then difficulties become your teachers, and pain and loss become occasions for profound and positive transformation.

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