Thursday, June 23, 2016

Picking Things Apart


I hate doing downward dog. Well, I used to hate doing it. I disliked it so much that some days it poisoned my pleasure in yoga altogether. But once I deconstructed the problem, it became easier to see what was really happening. Now, I like the old dog a bit better.

It takes awareness to pick a problem apart but it’s not hard to do.

While holding the dog pose, my butt in the air, instead of spending my time spinning a story about how tough it was, I explored the move, looking to see what part was difficult. A little surprisingly, I discovered that most of the move was quite enjoyable. There was just this one little place where I felt a tendon pull painfully. By moving a bare inch in another direction, I could see how it changed the painful pull into a simple sensation of stretching. By moving an inch in another direction, I was amazed to discover that I could feel a difference in another spot. Dislike turned into curiosity. Resistance became interest.

Then I wondered which other areas of my life I could pick apart.

When I was irritated with the guy down the street, I deconstructed my feelings of irritation and discovered that there was just this one little thing about him that put me off. Just this one little thing in an otherwise quite pleasant fellow. By slightly adjusting the way I saw him, I found that it changed everything. I could respond to him from a better place. Irritation turned into curiosity. Resistance became interest.

The same process can work for an event or activity. A single wasp-sting at ten years of age can rob us of the fun of picnics for years. But if we deconstruct it, we may discover that the picnics themselves were okay, it was just that one little thing. If the habit of dislike isn’t too deep, we may even begin to find a way to enjoy picnics again. It can be worth exploring. Aversion may turn into curiosity. Resistance may become interest.

Taking the time for awareness can show us that each person we meet or experience we have is not just one big solid thing – it’s a compilation of zillions of little parts, all moving and changing right before our eyes. When we pick apart one of those constructs, we may discover that they were not at all what we’d thought they were. Maybe they were not even problems after all.

Published February 2012, adapted from "Deconstructing Problems," published in June 2006 in my free monthly email newsletter, Starry Night. Sign up here.