There are a lot of ways that yoga and meditative practice can help us be calmer and more relaxed in daily life. As we dedicate ourselves to turning up at the studio and giving our best effort, in the moment, we learn to work with the ebb and flow of our bodies and emotions. As we experience these benefits though, we can get a little bit greedy.
It is easy to start thinking that if we do yoga, and/or meditate regularly, we should feel happy and content all the time. And that if we still experience frustration, annoyance or sadness something is “not working”. This can subtly shift into either blaming our practice for not making us feel better, or blaming ourselves for not doing it right. We feel cheated or discouraged, or like failures.
The antidote is not to give up on the practice, or to give up on feeling happy. Yoga teaches us to go beyond binary yes/no, black/white, good/bad ways of thinking. What we can do, if we get caught in this cycle of expectation, is step back and cultivate a sense of humour.
Humour? How does that work?
Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield puts it like this:
There’s a certain sense of humor that is absolutely necessary for our human condition. When we have that sense of humor, things become workable. It’s the part that we put on top of our ordinary human experience—and we all put something on top of it when we started our spiritual search—that creates the problem. You then not only have your own suffering, you have all these ideals and images that you hold up for yourself. That puts a layer of spiritual suffering on top of the basic suffering.
Instead of adding a layer of worry to our existing frustration or depression, we can choose to look at our situation differently. Short of actual tragedy, most of the stuff we worry about is pretty absurd in the scheme of things. Late for a meeting? Shop sold out of the item you wanted? Partner forgot to put out the rubbish? Instead of getting upset, appreciate how mundane and funny life’s potholes can be. Take a deep breath. Put things in context. Look for the lightness in the situation.
Cultivate a sense of humour in the studio, too. When you find a posture difficult, or your hamstrings feel like they’ll never move again, or the person next to you topples onto your mat, relax instead of tensing up. Smile. Breathe. Be happy in the moment.
How do you cultivate a sense of humour in your life? Share in the comments.