As I sat in pigeon the other day in yoga, listening to my breathing, the familiar mindfulness meditation language rose up in my head: may I be healthy, may I be happy, may I be calm, may I live with ease.  (enormous apologies to Dani, Karen, Katrina, and all of you who can tell me how wrong I have it… that’s how the words come to me, so I’ve decided not to fight it!)

It occurred to me that that was really it: Ease.

That’s what I want.  Everything else I say I want can be folded into this single thing.  I want to live with ease.  To let the clouds of my emotions and reactions skid across the sky of my spirit without overly attaching to them.  To let the weights of sorrow and joy, which are part of my life in near-equal measure, slide off my shoulders rather than staggering under them.

I grimaced as my hips screamed (pigeon is without a doubt my least favorite yoga pose, and equally unquestionably the one I need the most) and tried to return to my breath.  Calm, health, peace, trust, light.  They are all captured by ease.  There was nothing easy about the discomfort – okay, fine, pain – I felt sitting there, my forehead sticky against my mat, my hip burning, my eyes shut as I tried to simply breathe.  This is not ease, I thought, teeth gritted. But it is, almost surely, the path to ease.

I don’t know that I can untangle that paradox yet, but it posits an unavoidable truth: to achieve the life I want – a life with at least some quality of ease – I must head straight into the discomfort and learn to sit there.  Only by facing that which causes pain can I dissemble it, reduce its power, learn to live without such ferocious reactions.

Which brings me back to the breathing and the mantra.  Following those things, hand over hand like palming a rope to lead me through a dark room, seems the only way through.  Through to what I truly, deeply, essentially want: ease.

21 thoughts on “Ease”

  1. yes, me too. it is my word of the year (probably the word of my life). the mantra i repeat multiple times daily (when i am tired, triggered). the desired way i want to be in the world. me too, lindsey. me too.

  2. Yes! Yes! Yes! I couldn’t have said it better but this has been on my mind … why do I keep chasing the lazy aspect of my life. That’s why!I want ease. May it be so for you and for the rest of us as well. xoxo

  3. LIndsey, I so love your reflections here. And of course you know we all find our own words of lovingkindness, the ones that support and guide us. Am honored to be included in this lovely company of good friends, for we all inspire and support one another. One thought: I’m not sure that gritted teeth ever lead to ease, at least not for me. When I find myself with the clenched jaw — whether in yoga class or in the middle of the night, staring at the ceiling — I see it as a reminder not to push through but to back off, to demand less of myself, and to cut myself a bit of slack. In other words, slide a blanket under my screaming hip, back out of the pose, find that place of ease that is available to me, if I’m gentle and kind enough to myself to claim it.

    May ease be your gift to yourself today. Hugs to you.

  4. Lindsey, I always have such an affinity for your words. My own heart-mind written out before me. I recently came across the lovingkindness meditation and have been practicing it. And the wishing myself ease is always the thing that resonates most deeply within me (literally, I feel a stirring within me). Longing? Understanding? Comfort? the actual feeling of east itself?
    But what I love also, about what you wrote- which so often happens when I read your words—is that you take my own thoughts and push them further– maybe to get to ease, I need to find the ability to sit with/in discomfort. There’s something very….meaningful for me in that thought It’s a nugget I will take with me—thank you.

  5. One of my spiritual teachers, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, says that all the dharma (“truth” or wisdom) can be distilled into a single teaching or practice: relax. Don’t struggle or run away, relax, lean in, be gentle. I am working on this 🙂

    Also, I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but it is said in yoga that our hips are the place where our emotions get stuck, where we hold the tension of strong, uncomfortable feelings, and it’s why when we do hip stretching or opening poses, strong emotions can arise.

    As for your mantra, there are multiple versions of that which are “right,” and what’s most important is the statement of intention, of offering.

    Much love to you!

  6. I am so there with you! I always think of that moment in Dani’s book when she thought: “please.” I think it all the time these days.

    Beautiful post!


  7. What if I told you that you already had it? That there is no more to be found anywhere else? Would you believe me? Right there, that disbelief, is dis-ease. So yes, practice being where you are, as you are, and you’ll soon see there is nothing to get rid of, nothing holding you back.

  8. My daughter fell out of a tree today, and I was telling her, “Breathe. It will make you feel better. I promise.”
    In reading your post I was reminded of this: that we all want to wail in the moment of pain instead of owning the pain, accepting the pain and really experiencing the pain. And if we can get out of the panic of pain, the ease follows. Even in difficulty.

  9. This lesson yoga teaches, how to relax when you are under great strain is has been the most valuable by far for me. To smoothe out the breathing when your instinct is to make huffy breaths. To have the strength of mind to realize “this pigeon pose too shall pass” and so rather than sinking into the cold waters of suffering it we rise and float with our breath directly through the heart of the storm, eyes wide open , breath smooth, all muscles not needed for the asana completely unclenched. Done enough this yoga leaks over to the rest of your life. But the practice never ends.

  10. Yes. This gray area between acceptance and pushing through is one I can identify with so much. Ease is something which I feel I can only attain at certain times–it feels elusive, even EXclusive.

    But, I do think that ease is one of the opposites (perhaps to struggle?) of each part of life to which you and I both return; light and dark, cracked and smooth, hard and soft.

    (I was in Pigeon on Thursday and I couldn’t stay in it on my left side for more that 4 seconds.)


  11. You’ve put into words what I’ve been struggling towards for awhile now — a way to find peace with where I am. Ease. I wish I had it. I hope I get there. I agree with Anne, above, that just reading this post made me feel better.

  12. Your comment, ” to achieve the life I want – a life with at least some quality of ease – I must head straight into the discomfort and learn to sit there.” How very true that is! It’s not until you learn that the only way to comfort is thru discomfort, that you truly begin to grow. Remember growing pains as a child? I do, tho’ we had absolutely no choice except to go thru the discomfort. Great post!

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