Bringing in the New

Last updated on January 9th, 2023 at 06:18 am

It is a new year. Many of us have been reflecting upon the past year, and looking forward to a different time. For many, the past year has felt frustrating, frenetic and filled with limitations. Perhaps we will find more awareness, possibility, and peace in 2010.

The Sanskrit word yoga has many meanings and is derived from the Sanskrit root “yuj,” meaning, “to control,” “to yoke” or “to unite.” It is the word yoke I wish to focus on. In Yoga, we are bound by the pose, by the limitations of our body and consciousness, and consequently learn to focus more deeply while opening our hearts. We follow our breath, focus on our bodies, notice how we are supported, how we are limited, how our musculature and consciousness interact. We learn to be in what is uncomfortable, rather than escape. We learn to witness and breath. Our awareness increases. We become in union.

Both in our lives and relationships, we may find ourselves yoked. We may find ourselves in a situation in which we feel limited. We have the option to focus differently, to increase our awareness so that we may expand while dealing with our limitations, rather than be constricted by them. Perhaps our job is chaotic. Instead of getting caught in the chaos, we may learn to engage with it differently, to witness ourselves, rather than react or push. Similarly, in a relationship our fate is bound with another as long as that relationship continues. What our partner does impacts us, and what we do impacts him or her. Being in a relationship can at times be like a yoga practice. We are in relationship with both possibilities as well as limitations. Events occur that may be uncomfortable or difficult, that we do not have the ability to change, or at least not quickly. At those times, rather than falling into habitual ways of being, we can choose to learn to witness ourselves. We learn to tolerate the discomfort. We have the possibility of developing aspects of ourselves that were not previously developed. Like a master yogi, we become masters of ourselves.

In yoga, our body/mind is not immediately different, more flexible or fully conscious. We do not instantly understand how our muscles work, or how to be in a pose. The changes we make are small and occur over time, though regular practice. As we move into this New Year, perhaps we can look at what we are yoked to. What we must work with, or accept? What can we change? If we cannot change something or someone, what is our most valuable course of action? When we are yoked, we can choose to turn and face our situation. We can pay attention to the sensations and feelings we are experiencing. We learn to be in and explore the discomfort. One of the teachings of some yogic and Buddhist thought is that even though life is often uncomfortable, there is no need to seek a more comfortable position because all positions are temporary. As we leave one, another with it’s own challenges will arise.

Wherever you are in your life or relationship, you can view it as the place you are now, rather than the place you are trying to escape. What can you learn? To communicate differently? To not react? To not blame yourself? To get yourself unstuck and leave? What can you learn from focusing on where you are now?

One of goals of psychotherapy is increasing awareness. Gestalt therapy in particular focuses on staying with what is, as an agent to change. Trying to get somewhere else does not give you the insight, tools or awareness necessary to become somebody who is somewhere else. Those insights, tools and awarenesses are developed where you are right now.

For example, lets suppose that Sue and John get in a fight. They can continue to rehash the same fight over and over again in a myriad of manifestations, or they can start to look at the pattern they are caught in. The pattern is the problem. How is it caused? When he gets mad, I get nervous. My heart is pounding, I feel scared. Why? I feel alone. He isn’t seeing me. I can’t make him be available right now. Find that feeling in your past. I remember feeling this way when I was little and my dad was mad. I was scared then too. So now, how do I try to stop that feeling? What action do I habitually take? I withdraw. I tell myself that nobody understands me. Once the pattern is recognizable, we can start talking about it, understand it, and ultimately address and change it.

As we move through our lives, we may encounter challenging situation after challenging situation. As we work with these challenges, we change. Eventually, because we have mastered some aspect of ourselves – it feels as if those situations are not occurring anymore. We’ve grown enough that what was once difficult is now inconsequential.

When we are yoked to something or someone, we have the opportunity to work with the situation and with ourselves. Over time, we develop more acceptance, strength, insight and possibility. The old structure and consciousness loosens and something new comes into being. With the change of this calendar year, we can evaluate how we have grown, what we have worked through and released, and where we are still bound.

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