Today felt like one of those days where I was filled with storm clouds and doubt. For most of the day I was plagued with questions like,“what is the point; why should I care; what does my life ultimately matter in the grand scheme of things.” One might call it depression; I prefer to think of it as existential dread. Regardless of the semantics, I spent most of the day feeling doubtful, sad, and afraid. You might think these would be feelings spared a yoga teacher. HA! These are things that lead to a yoga practice.
The nature of my job requires that I am the most happy person in the room; at the very least, I am supposed to appear that way so others can sort of catch the happiness bug. I do not mind this, and usually I don’t feel like I am faking it. That being said, if there is one thing my years of practice have taught me, yoga will not make life perfect. Sometimes, yoga might even make life harder because you become really close with yourself and aware. It’s hard to bullshit yourself when you are paying attention. Yoga will help you be with the imperfections though.
Anyway, all I wanted to do today was call off from work and hide under the covers. I do not have a lot of these days; maybe ten days out of the year I feel this kind of mood. Somehow though, these sad ten days can overwhelm all the good days and make me forget how great life is. Even though I wanted to, I didn’t call out today. I taught my classes, and I pretended to be that happiest man in the room. The power in this is that not long after I started, I got to quit pretending, and I started to feel better. Granted, I’m an extremely lucky man in that I get to do for a living what I love; I mean I truly love what I do, but still, in the act of being in life and smiling, I started to feel better.
When I got home and started to meditate upon my day, I came to the realization that my thoughts I was having earlier, the ones that were filled with doubt and fear, weren’t wrong. They happened and will sometimes happen again. There is no amount of yoga that will ever fix that, but I was better able to watch those thoughts and feelings and be with them. That is what the practice can do, or at least it has done for me.
If I may be so bold, the other answers that I came up with, might just apply to all of us. Life is really hard sometimes, and it is complicated. The more you pay attention, the more this becomes readily apparent. Like Star Wars, life is this constant battle between the forces of light and dark, good and evil. Much of life is gray, and we can easily get lost in the gray parts. The gray is mundane and simple. Chop wood, carry water (thanks Kim). Despite its simplicity, it is in the gray that we define ourselves and our world. Simple acts of goodness, living a life that truly considers others as if they were your own, and trying not to be too harsh in judgement, these are ways our lives matter. Today I guess I realized that no matter how I feel, whether it be elated or depressed, my life’s purpose is to add to the light side of the force and seek my happiness without hurting others’ chances for happiness. This is how we fix our world.
I’m writing this to remind myself that the next time I feel like I did today, I need remember that it will pass. I need to remember that life is meant to be lived, nothing more, nothing less. To be kind to myself and to others as if they were myself while living; this is the best thing I can be, and it’s really what the world needs. I just have to keep adding to the light even if it’s only a little bit at a time. It all adds up.