“Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul” – Marcus Aurelius.
Most of my life, I wouldn’t have agreed with Emperor Aurelius. I would hardly call going inside a retreat. It was murky and uncomfortable. There was confusion and there was suffering. In yoga, we call this suffering, this “bad space,” duhkha. I had a lot of that going on. In the time I’ve practiced yoga, this has changed. It’s been gradual and honestly, a little unexpected. As I reflect on how to do this soul-work, creating more sukha, or “good space” in there, it is a lot like the work we do to keep the dirty dishes from piling up the kitchen sink. Here me out…
If we haven’t done dishes in a while, it’s quite an undertaking. We have to be prepared to stand at the sink scrape, scrub, and get our elbows into it and really work to clean the old dried semi-permanent, glued-on food away. It may not look like the gunk is going to come off, but it will. It takes persistence and effort, confidence that you can do it, and a good attitude never hurts. It’s worth it. The natural state of dishes is shiny and clean and an empty sink means there’s room for the next round of dishes.
Once all those dishes are done and we can see the bottom of the sink again, going forward we might choose to do the little bit of work throughout the day so those dishes don’t pile up again and cause trouble for our sink. We commit to a practice of washing the dishes on a regular basis so that we remember that a sink can be quiet, clean and open. The dirty dishes may come through, but they don’t have to stay long (and they are so much easier to wash as they come up).
Yoga practice is like this for the troubled soul. We look inside of ourselves and see the work that needs to be done. We begin to tend to the old stuff that’s in there making noise, we ask what it needs or what it has to say and we can make peace… peace and quiet in that soul of ours. We do the work and we continue to practice and in this, we cultivate good space, the sukha, that can be there inside. It is gradual. It takes time. But having a quiet untroubled retreat in our own soul is something a wo/man truly can enjoy, kind of like having a clean kitchen sink.
Amanda teaches yoga movement, breath and meditation in Austin, TX and online. She offers individual sessions to those interested in developing a daily home practice. More information is available under “classes” tab or contact her by clicking HERE.