On the mat I felt so stiff and sore tonight Tight in all the usual places and some surprising ones as well.

“Notice,” my teacher said, “where your mind goes when you feel stiff. Can you stay with the irritation? Can you stay with it long enough to let it teach you? What does it say? Notice without judging where your mind goes…Now bring it back…Stay present if you can and see what you can learn…”

This is a scene that replays a lot in our house these days. Max has done something he knows is wrong or disrespectful. I call him on it and he immediately looks away in discomfort. To look me in the face means having to see my disappointment or perhaps my stern face. As I talk to him I see his brain has moved onto calculating hockey stats or maybe to building legos. “Look at me,” I tell him. “I need to know you are present here with me. I know its uncomfortable but I need to know you are learning here. You can’t learn if you don’t stay with me”

The teacher is the student is the teacher is the student….

Staying with pain, with irritation, with disappointment, with fear. Whether we are 7 or 39 we rush away, rush toward anything that will dull the ache. Dreams of a sweeter tomorrow, ice cream or booze, new toys and new friends and new adventures. We leave the chores and the laundry undone while we search for the things that may soothe our heartache. Its so scary to stay here and keep going when we feel so uncomfortable…

But if we aren’t paying attention, we miss the lesson. At worst I am doomed to live it over and over again…or at very least to have lived through pain for naught.

These days I am finding myself compelled to stay, stuck to the spot like glue, to linger with my discomfort just a little. To stay with the irritation for just one more breath. To hear what it is whispering. To hear it without judgement…If we can clear away the clutter we can tune in to our silent, certain knowing

I am stripping down a lot of the things that used to distract me. I am clearing out the clutter and the things that make noise. And yes I am hearing some things–not just hearing but listening and taking them in. Some things are things I would rather not hear, but they are true and I need to absorb their wisdom. Other things are useful and helpful and I wonder how I could have missed them. And some things, some things I am learning are downright delicious. Like relearning the fact that when I hang upside down with my head cradled in my arms, it may hurt but I can stretch out my spine and relieve compression and tightness that I carry and even misinterpret as stress. Or that nothing is more healing than holding my son and hearing what his heart really needs.

2 Responses to “Stay”

  1. Trish Says:

    This is so beautiful! I can’t thank you again for writing just what I needed to read at this moment. I’m trying to stay in tune with the discomfort in lieu of leaving for greener pastures…so easy for me to run outside for adventures abound, people to see, children to play with than to assess my home interior and what this garden of gravel needs tending to, order, unclutter, a virtual baptism of Murphy’s oil soap to start with my hands. Thank you again….as a fellow yogee I agree with your assessment hanging your head down yuuummmmmm.

    Love, Trish

  2. maggie, dammit Says:

    Oof. This lesson is one of my particular challenges, too. To stay, to not hide or escape or duck. Yes.

    You always say it so well.