I was recently walking through a beautiful wood where a sea of bluebells had just come into full bloom. This experience reminded me of a dream I once had: in the dream I was walking through a wood with Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United’s manger. As we walked along the woodland path, surrounded by a canopy of large trees, Alex Ferguson turns to me and says “Life can be difficult sometimes” . I share this dream with you as I find this image rather surreal and funny and yet, at the same time, offers a sense of wisdom. As I live my life, I find myself again and again having to reflect on Alex Ferguson’s words. In my own life as well as that of my friends and family I am constantly reminded of difficulties that we all face on a daily basis: some of them take the form of illness or health conditions, some take the form of a more mental, emotional discomfort, as well as events occurring in the world around us that we may find challenging or upsetting. It can at times seem unrelenting and overwhelming.
As a yoga teacher whose income comes from teaching classes I can sometimes fall into anxious or overwhelmed states, where I can obsessively worry about class numbers. Then, from a place of fear, I spend my time trying to control the situation, in the faint hope that I can control reality if I just try hard enough! After several years of doing this I am beginning to see more and more that this just does not work.
I can take initiative with my life and situations I encounter, but life is far too big and complex for it to be controlled. So what can we do in the face of difficulties when they arise?
I believe that by learning to relax into our bodies and being with our vulnerability in the world we find a creative response. This may seem counter-intuitive because, if you are anything like me, when we experience difficulties the last thing we feel like doing is allowing ourselves to be more vulnerable. But there is a strength that comes from abiding in the heart and in our vulnerability. It connects us more deeply to ourselves and others and brings us into a deeper relationship to the world and soul.
“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable.
But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.”
Madeleine L’Engle Writer