Finding bliss – on our own


Today there are many movies and TV shows showing those using and abusing drugs; Breaking Bad, Weeds, Mad Men, Homeland etc.  (please note:  I love these shows).  Even in parts of the country, DC being the closest to me, are now allowing the use of medical marijuana; as if prescribed drugs makes it better or safer.

I say this as I had a student who recently told me that her boyfriend came to my class and said he had experienced the same feeling as ‘getting high’.  He said I should market it for that feeling as that is really a bigger seller than strength or flexibility.  That many today would rather come to class for this feeling anyway.

Let me just add that I grew up the child of a drug abuser but I do understand the point being made.  I’m not pushing ‘getting high’ and I do understand the need one may have want to escape.  Furthermore there are many cases for the use of drugs; cancer victims for example.   The main difference is that yoga will give this feeling only you aren’t escaping – you are learning to face situations & feelings.

Right now I know of someone who has a sibling who is dealing with a serious pain injury in his life.  He has turned to yoga as he has described the feeling in his closing yoga class as one where he blacks out – even forgets everything in the past, even the class he just completed.  He is finding that place we call ‘bliss’ – that moment.

I teach many kinds of yoga classes including prenatal yoga; knowing fully well what these two men are feeling and describing.  We laugh when we hear it but I do understand the reasons for it.  We already know that yoga helps with serious times of challenge, pain and stress.  Still we don’t see it sold or advertised to help in cases of mild or serious trauma.

As humans we have a desire to feel great and avoid pain as often as we can.  We remember that feeling but often forget what got us there and repeat it.  Yoga may seem a strange solution and yet it doesn’t just have to be yoga.  Many have this same feeling from running, swimming and sometimes from unhealthy habits as well.  The point is to build awareness to the psychological need you are having at that moment; deciding if it is real or just an impulse. “It will pass” is what I often say in classes.

The brain being the main focus – substances cause reactions to the body of course but also to the brain signals.   The receptors react with each person differently which is why the amount can vary person to person.  Most find temporary relief this way by cutting off the discomfort.  I’m not saying that there isn’t a time to resort for this solution.  I’ve never been an advocate this way; even in prenatal avoiding drugs should you need it.  However it is temporary and there are always things that happen as a result from it.  All I really want is for the individual not to react in fear and make the right choice from a different part of their brain function.

I’m not writing this article to point out the medical situations of using or not using drugs though.  I’m only pointing out the similarities and differences between using substances or using natural methods.

Although it may give similar feelings, there are differences in how we each react to pain.   I have loved sharing the quote from Marilyn Monroe this year:  “When you don’t have money, the problem is food.  When you have money, it’s sex.  When you have both it is health… then you’re frightened of death.”  This coming from someone who died of a drug overdose; yet her words point out that each of us have differences in making our decisions that we focus on.

I can’t expect someone who is poor and hungry to focus on health, eating organic or concerned with building a family.  Each of us is dealing with ways to balance in this journey thru life; this balance is in many areas – work, religion, family, money and charity.  Once we are off balance we look for way to fulfill the basic human needs.  Very much as if we are in the deep end of the pool and reaching for anything to help us.  We may find a temporary solution and still we toss ourselves back into the deep end again and again.  Drugs do this of course and yet you haven’t fixed the problem.

Yoga as an alternate solution does a lot to the body and mind; many, even medical professionals aren’t exactly sure why it works but they know it has had results.  Believe in energies or not, you are moving the energy around all the time – especially in the postures.   Some postures keep the energy locked and others let it escape.   Add in deep breath and you are increasing blood circulation that only helps the heart, brain and lungs (among others).

To feel satisfied and fulfilled simply watch your breath.  Train yourself to watch the thoughts you are having.  Watch and pause.  It isn’t beating yourself up for the thoughts and feelings you are having.  When we do this act of pausing, over and over, we notice the negative feelings come up first.  Stop, wait and smile.  You aren’t alone in what I call the “WTF” moment.  That is when you find out it wasn’t real.  See that you reacted.  Often in classes the words letting go I feel are used all too early.  Letting go is last after this step but first you have to be aware that you are doing it.

Many I see come to yoga for different reasons.  What can’t be seen though is the mind.  It is with this that new and sometimes better choices are made.  That is what goes off the mat, outside the classroom, to areas in life from work, family and food.  It is a result but not the expectation.  In truth you return to what we call ‘the true self’; sounds cheesy I know.  But this again is about you finding your natural way of being well… you.  Not the you were, wanted to be or someone’s version of you.   Is different and unique for each of us.  If we stop and listen we may find it.  I see those in my recruiting world in the same situations.  They lose a job and quickly just want the replacement; even if it was unhealthy.  They have a way of life they believe needs to be maintained and they can’t think of letting go.  However it isn’t real.   I too lost my job unexpectedly and know the shocked feeling; very similar to loss of a loved one.  You lose your breath.   Stop, pause and don’t panic is what I often suggest.

This doesn’t mean that yoga will be the cure all solution though.  Many get addicted to yoga just as much.  They often changed one addiction for the other.  They are busy on postures over and over and some saw the results from this so they stay with it.   For others it may take time but they usually end up injured.   Listening to yourself (or the universe as I believe) takes practice.

Yoga is not perfection it is a practice.  I follow the Yoga Sutras which is a very old text of yoga.  The 8 limbs is mentioned in the string (text).  The limbs though aren’t meant to be applied in order.  They are always at practice, building and changing.  This feeling of “high” is what is Samadhi; the last limb.    It is a higher state that contains the larger view of the consciousness, where dualities melt away and oneness exists.

Some may find Samdhi for a moment or not at all.   For those that want to explore this 8th limb more  – make the prayayama (breath control) the focus vs the postures or asana.  Asana is the result not the solution or expectation after all.

So as far as marketing is concerned:  Hope to see you on the mat sometime soon where I’ll be teaching those the art of getting high on their own.    (LOL)