dandelion puff blowing away in wind

Let there be no doubt that life can be severely ironic. 

Two weeks after I sent out remarks on the sacrifices my wife was making for our family, she got laid off from that soul-sucking job that was providing us health insurance.

She worked at the same company for more than six years. They gave her three days' notice. Corporate management sure is cruel in its inhumanity. The health insurance racket is even worse.

Fortunately, our situation is not dire. We've been biding our time and planning for her to leave that job eventually. Proactively changing a situation that is currently working feels foolhardy, even when the need is obvious. The forces that be must have felt we were dragging our feet a little too much and decided to intercede on our behalf. Funny how life does that sometimes.

Brings to mind a line by Bob Dylan. My daughter has taken a shine to a children's book made of his song Forever Young. She makes me read it to her over and over again.

"May you have a strong foundation when the winds of changes shift."

Indeed. Question is: what constitutes a foundation that provides the fortitude to weather unforeseen changes when they come? Clearly, the foundation must be internal. Any foundation built in the external world is subject to the temporal nature of passing things.

Change and setting new goals is a common subject for yoga newsletters and publications. What dismays me some is that the changes and goals most commonly spoken of always seem to be about poses: "This Spring, my goal is to work on forearm stand."

I can't help but think that making a goal of poses is misguided. Not to mention, trying different poses in your practice does not necessarily amount to any real changes of consequence. If we are going to set goals in practice, I think they want to be more important than displays of physical prowess.

When I have faced challenges in my life, my ability to execute difficult body positions was of no help. However, utilizing breathing and moving exercises to establish self management skills and a sense of inner poise has proven invaluable.

Its understandable that our tendency is to gravitate toward goals that can be more easily measured. There is no objective metric for how we feel about being alive or our sense of self-worth. It's not always clear how engaging our breath and body would have anything to do with such subtle nuances in our person.

One thing is clear. Couching practice (or life) in a success or failure dynamic, characterized by ambition and accomplishment, undermines the inner foundation of self love that is our birthright and reinforces a social imprint of shame.

Tenderness and self-care leads to self-worth. The empowerment that comes from knowing how to make yourself feel better and appreciate life's inherent miracle is not contingent on the shape of events or the external identifications and definitions we choose to indulge. Consequently, we become less subject to the whims of stature and life can be embraced however it unfolds.  

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About The Author

J. Brown's picture

J. Brown is a yoga teacher, writer, and founder of Abhyasa Yoga Center in Brooklyn, NY.  His writing has been featured in Yoga Therapy Today, the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, and across the yoga blogosphere. Visit his website at jbrownyoga.com

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