There was a man walking along a path in the dark of night. He sees a poisonous snake, freezes and then runs in the other direction. The next day, he is walking along the same path, and the poisonous snake is still there. Yet this time, when his vision is clear in the daylight, he realizes that the snake is not so poisonous – and not so much a snake—rather, it’s a coiled rope.
That fable holds so much truth: “misconception occurs when knowledge of something is not based upon its true form.” (Sri Swami Satchidananda, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 8th Sutra). In the dark of night, when the man could not see clearly, the rope was a poisonous snake. He knew that he should fear for his life and thus responded to something not based upon its true form. Every cell in his body experienced and lived through fear due to his misconception.
How often does that happen? How often does someone say they need to speak to you, and you fear the worst, playing out various scenarios, be it a lover, friend or boss? These plots inhabit our bodies, and 99 times out of 100, that 'knowledge' is not based on ‘something in its true form’. We see it as a self-protective mechanism, but is it really self-protective to go through every possible (negative) scenario? Our bodies experience and absorb the fear, the anger, the frustration our minds create as we “live through” those made up synopses and they are not even reality!
So how does that translate on the mat? How often do you see a pose and decide, “no way- not strong enough,” “not flexible enough,” or “too terrible at balancing?” We visualize ourselves attempting said pose and project in our minds, rather than know, the 'disaster' that lies ahead. We think we know what we are capable of, however, so often we sell ourselves short. We are our own harshest critic and naysayer.
I cannot count the number of times I’ve seen a pose and said “no way!” Not surprisingly, when I’ve tried it moments later, I fail, “proving” how right I was, how incapable I am. I also cannot count the number of times I’ve caught myself in that same mode of thinking and stopped, saying instead “hmmm, I’m going to play with ‘why not?’” and moments later either I succeed to the full extent or find far more than I would have, had I listened to and trusted the “knowledge” of what I am capable.
This week's challenge is to question your self-limiting knowledge and to play, to explore and to see what you might discover. Each time we say “why not?” we give ourselves the gift, the opportunity, to discover something new.
With love and light,
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