August 13, 2014

We Need to Question Why. ~ Leah Slagenwhite

one use. provided by author

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes…the ones who see things differently—they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things…they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” ~ Steve Jobs

As yogis, we are all about peace, love, acceptance, and all things inherently zen.

But isn’t there another side of us that just wants to say “WTF?!?!” sometimes?

Not so much in a negative way, more in the way of questioning what doesn’t make sense.

I’ve been like this since childhood and now, as a responsible, tax-paying, bill-paying adult, I find myself daring to defy the “norm” more often than not…particularly when I’m sitting in a meeting and no one truly knows why we are there.

In grade school, I’d be sitting in detention thinking, “Why am I here?” I didn’t stick the gum I was chewing under any desks or spit it on the ground. I wasn’t chewing obnoxiously loud. I was simply chewing gum. A teacher saw me and punished me, because it was against the rules to chew gum.

It would make much more sense if the rule was, “Do not stick chewed gum under desks,” or, “Properly dispose of gum in wastebasket,” or even, “Chew discreetly, as not to look like a cow.”

But the rule was, “Do not chew gum.” Why? It doesn’t harm anyone. Is it because of the toxin aspartame in the gum? No, it’s not because the school had various pop machines all over the place, and those are pumped full of more aspartame in one bottle than in a single piece of gum. But I digress.

It didn’t make any sense to me. Thus, I questioned it.

In yoga, we are challenged to “let go,” and when we try, we meet resistance. Why?

Perhaps one of the great paradoxes of our practice is that we experience resistance and surrender at the same time. Effort with the ease. Pushing to the edge and backing off when we’re pushing too far.

When resistance comes up, observing what is coming up without judgment and allowing it to flow through is the key to overcoming it. But this isn’t just a one-and-done quick fix, this is a continuous, moment-to-moment, pose-to-pose practice. For me, resistance has come up in specific poses, even the simplest of them, (ahem, utkatasana, anyone?) and the rebel in me has started to question what is coming up.

Why do I feel resistance in this pose? Why does this come up? Why am I berating myself?

Asking “why” can be the catalyst in our growth as a yogis, as well as personally and professionally. For me, finding healing of the soul after being diagnosed with cancer at 29 was rooted in asking “why”.

Rather than “fighting” the cancer, I questioned it. The word “fight” has strong connotations of violence and combat, both of which were actually the last things I needed when diagnosed with cancer. I needed strength, resilience, courage, peace and most of all faith.

To uncover these qualities that we all possess, we need to persist in anything we undertake and maintain purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles or discouragement.

We need to question why.

From a place of non-judgment, neutrality and sheer curiosity as opposed to self-pity or anger, when I questioned not only what was happening, but why, all the answers directed me toward finding healing.

Why is chemo the only option?  Why hasn’t the doctor recommend anything beyond “eating fruit and vegetables” when it came to the food eaten during treatment? Why does yoga make me feel better after treatment? Why me, with the kids and all? Why not me, with the kids and all? Why is all of this even happening?

In asking “why” and not being scared of the answers that come up, we can come to know the secret to not just living, but coming alive. It’s very simple and true to human form. We make it so complex. We fight, resist, kick and scream when all along, the answer is right there in front of us, within us: reverence.

Albert Schweitzer said, “By having a reverence for life, we enter into a spiritual relation with the world. By practicing reverence for life we become good, deep, and alive.”

For everything that arises in life, question why. Consider all possibilities, including that all of this, this entire existence, could be rigged in our favor.


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Apprentice Editor: Marcee Murray King/Editor: Emily Bartran

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