Can we hold the opposites? This might just be the essential question.
With so much happening in the world, unfolding before our eyes, how do we hold our ground, stay true to our hearts— and what is required from us— and yet, hold space for all that is happening? How can we feel the uncomfortable parts of living, but also stay connected to that deep resource within that is connected to our essential goodness?
In yoga, we call this holding the opposites: being rooted, yet open; grounded, yet soft. We are more than one thing at any given time. Yoga recognizes this dance between the opposites— in fact, if we begin by looking at the breath- the inhale and exhale- it can teach us about holding space for all that shows up in our lives.
“The life of this world is nothing but the harmony of opposites.” ~ Rumi
Harmony appears when the parts come together to make a whole, often those elements create something greater, more elevated. The practice of yoga uncovers the harmony within, because it brings pieces of us together: the divided, separated, and conflicted aspects of our personality and ‘self’ especially.
In the practice, we hold the opposite parts of who we are, of our experience, equally. By nature, I think we as humans want to push away experience that is uncomfortable, that isn’t pretty, so to speak, in favor of the experiences and parts of our personality that are more pleasing or ‘acceptable’. Yet, we know that in the pushing away of those aspects of who we are, or in the rejection of those experiences or people, we are in fact pushing away a part of ourselves that is of value. That is where the gems lie, hidden beneath the rubbish and the cobwebs that have formed over years of habitual living.
When a moment shows up, and I am unsure of how to be with it, I simply ask myself, can hold space of all of it? Can I look for the harmony in the discomfort, in the space between the inhale and the exhale? This is the practice: coming back to the tools we know, the treasures we’ve gleaned from our practice time on the mat, and putting it all to use in the moment to moment disharmonies and challenges that arise.
Learning to hold the opposites is a practice in itself: just keep coming back to the breath, to the present moment. Hold all of what arises, gently— and let the breath be the talisman, the reminder, to come back home to your practice and the harmony of the opposites.