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We Don't Get to Choose What Life Brings.

We did not ask for this room or this music. We were invited in. Therefore, because the dark surrounds us, let us turn our faces to the light. Let us endure hardship to be grateful for plenty. We have been given pain to be astounded by joy. We have been given life to deny death. We did not ask for this room or this music, but because we are here, let us dance. – Stephen King

  • My sister is giving webinars to thousands of educators to help them do their jobs online.
  • A good friend is making masks to donate to those in need who cannot shelter at home because their jobs do not allow it.
  • The clergy at our church have figured out how to create a way for our congregation to worship together from hundreds of dining room tables.
  • My dogs, never super happy on leashes, have learned to love (and behave on) their daily walk through the neighborhoods of our town.
  • Doctors are suddenly holding telehealth appointments to allow us access to medical care while still staying home.
  • Local white tablecloth restaurants are delivering our favorite meals to our doorsteps.
  • Students everywhere have been uprooted from their communities yet are still showing up for classes.
  • I, a diehard tech-dummy, find myself teaching virtual yoga classes from my living room.

We don’t get to choose what life brings our way

None of us asked for this. None of us would have chosen our current situation. None of us would have wished this virus on our own worst enemies – let alone on the whole wide world.

But if my yoga practice has taught me anything, it is that we don’t get to choose what life brings our way. We only get to choose how we respond to what life brings our way.

Yoga gives us a chance to practice acceptance

If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, you know what I mean. You show up, you unroll your mat and you follow your instructor’s cues. The series s/he puts together could just as easily contain a posture (asana) you love as one you loathe. Your work is to breathe through them both.

Here’s the thing: In my experience, the posture you loathe usually has more to teach you than the one you love; not only about your body, but about your attitude, your mindset and your strength.

We grow more from discomfort than comfort

I can almost guarantee that you will end class changed because you hung in there and explored a moment or two of discomfort. Because you stretched past the instant surge of “I don’t wanna” (that’s a reaction, by the way) and found your way to a place of acceptance and curiosity. With practice, these uncomfortable moments can draw you to a place of true creativity.

Even in something as trivial as an uncomfortable (or downright impossible) yoga posture, acceptance and curiosity create a state of mind where it is possible to explore and attempt new ways of doing or being. In this state of mind, you are no longer reacting, but are mindfully responding.

Uncomfortable situations in life work much the same way. We immediately weather a powerful sense of aversion. “I don’t want this!” “This isn’t what I planned!” “This isn’t fair!” Because we’ve been practicing, however, we know that this surge of emotion (often quite justified) will pass if we pause and take a few breaths.

Acceptance frees us to get creative

Once we settle down and accept that what is happening is, indeed, happening, we free ourselves to get creative. We set ourselves up to do things we never thought we would do, or never even dreamed we’d be able to do. We may even find ourselves feeling grateful for the chance to stretch and grow.

So, friends, let’s accept this invitation. Even if you still need a moment or two to wrap your head around this strange music that life is playing for us right now, let’s choose to dance.

If you’re struggling to stretch past “I don’t want this!” to reach a place of acceptance, consider booking a spiritual direction session. These confidential conversations are meant to provide a space for you to safely vent your fears and frustrations and then to explore ways to restore some peace in your life.