Here’s a thought I’d like to share…
Two Buddhist Monks were once traveling together down a muddy road, where a heavy rain had fallen. Coming around a bend, they met a girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross a muddy puddle in the road. “Come on, girl,” said the older monk. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.
The younger monk did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then, when he no longer could restrain himself, he said, “We monks have rules about touching females. Why did you do that?”
“I put her down hours ago,” said the first monk. “Are you still carrying her?”
So what is it that you just can’t put down? As part of our human makeup, we have a natural tendency to take certain events, and/or perceived slights, and hold on to them. As if they were stones, we put pick them up, put them in our backpacks and then carry them around wherever we go. We get so accustomed to this weight, that we forget that we were the ones that loaded our backpacks in the first place – or, worse yet, we forget we even have backpacks on and we think, “That’s just life.”
Taking the time to settle down, examine our lives and our attitudes, and unpack some of the things we’ve put in our packs, offers us a chance to decide what we need to keep, what we need to give back to its rightful owner, and what we need to discard.
This “unpacking” is one of the gifts of yoga. Yoga invites us to come into the present moment and be still. It is the practice of “moving into stillness” writes Eric Shiffman. When we come into stillness (whether it’s thru yoga, meditation, prayer, or communing with nature) we can see more clearly, hear more accurately, choose more skillfully. We can unpack those heavy backpacks and we feel lighter and more available to our amazing lives.
However, without compassion or self-acceptance, stillness is incomplete and its benefits are short-lived. Stillness brings us face to face with ourselves and our “baggage,” thus it is essential that self-compassion exists in that same space. Otherwise, we get mad at ourselves, become punitive, and beat ourselves up. Without compassion, we will not have the heart for the practice and we will not give ourselves the permission to be still.
So with an intention to truly honor your journey – go ahead and unpack your backpack, compassionately sort through the burdens you’ve been carrying, lighten your load, and get on with living this one wild and precious life you’ve been given.
Wishing you a lightened load, and joyful trails,