One breath at a time

Today after the yoga class my teacher told me I have a very good presence and concentration. “You don’t see all that inner battle which is happening inside me”, I answered with laughter. Sometimes we don’t see other people’s inner battles. Maybe someone looks very calm and peaceful, but you never know what’s happening inside them!

When I was walking to the shala* today, I had a small crisis and I felt a lack of motivation. I was tired, my muscles were still aching from yesterday’s practice, the weather was nice and all I wanted was just to lay in the sun and be lazy. I thought I just don’t want to do this anymore, it’s too hard. Quite typical chain of thoughts, right? We all know that. But after all, I went all the way to the shala…so better just do the practice anyway, right**? So there I stand on the mat, with quite a lot of negativity in my mind and I think: “Ok, I’m just gonna get through this. Take it easy, no big achievements needed, just get through the (damn) series and then you can go out and eat ice cream!”

And there I’m, taking one posture at a time, one breath at a time – not saying that there were no tough moments or thoughts of giving up – but it was alright. Of course. Just take it one breath at a time.

Afterwards I remembered the teaching of Ajahn Brahm***: the present moment is good enough. If we are just present here and now things are alright. We often suffer because we think of the past or future. We think of something bad which happened to us in the past, or something wrong we have done or said. Or we think how horrible is something going to be in the future and with that thought we suffer for that already now, when nothing has yet happened. I was feeling so negative on my way to the shala just because I thought about how hard it is going to be to do my practice. The walk itself was no suffering. As well as the practice later on. It’s just this breath and this movement. And then this breath and this movement. And then this one… The present moment here and now is just alright. It’s good enough.

Once (or probably many times) Ajahn Brahm told a story of a man in the monastery who decided to pull out his sick tooth by himself. “God, that must have hurt!?” they asked, frightened just at the thought of it. He answered: “When I decided to do that, that didn’t hurt. When I went to the workshop and picked the tools, that didn’t hurt. When I put the pliers on my tooth, that didn’t hurt either. When I pulled it out, hell, that hurt! But it was just a short moment!” How often do we unnecessary suffer just because of a thought of something happening in the future? I think this is applicable on serious life issues, but also on small things like overcoming the struggle of doing a practice every day.

*a shala is a place to practice/study yoga. These days I’m practicing 4-5 times a week.
**ashtanga yoga is practiced so called “Mysore style”. The teacher is not leading the class. Everybody is doing their practice in their own tempo and level while the teacher goes around and helps here and there.
***an Australian buddhist monk and a famous and awesome teacher. Through his talks I was introduced to Buddhism and I was lucky to meet him during my trip to Australia

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