Posted by: Bruce Black | July 1, 2012

An Invisible Reservoir

The moment comes toward the end of class, after we’ve finished our Sun Salutes and we’re working toward our pinnacle pose, when it feels like I’m scaling the steepest of mountains, climbing way beyond the limits of my body’s endurance.

Ahead of me, like a tall mountain, is the most challenging pose of the class, but I don’t think that I can take another step. What should I do? Is it time to rest in Child’s Pose? Or should I keep going?

After taking a breath or two, I draw from an invisible reservoir and find the strength of will to continue. My legs may wobble as I move into the pose, or I may lose my balance, or I may have to pause to catch my breath, but I can take that next step… and the next… thanks to the invisible reservoir that I manage to tap into as I climb toward the peak.

Where does this reservoir of determination and strength–this reservoir of will–come from? What is its source? And how do we manage to tap into it when it seems that we have no energy or willpower left to take another step?

Within each of us there is a deep reservoir that provides us with a sense of purpose, a resoluteness to stay on the path that we set for ourselves, no matter if that path takes us up steep and rocky cliffs or down deep and slippery valleys.

On some days this reservoir may be harder to find than on other days, but it’s always present for us to draw from in that moment of decision when we have to choose between respecting our body’s need for rest and honoring our body’s desire (and our intellectual curiosity) for further exploration.

On any given day, despite our desire to keep going, our body may tell us it’s important to step off the path, to stop climbing, to lower into Child’s Pose and rest while the rest of the class continues up the mountain toward the peak.

Our decision to rest or to keep going is based on what we’re feeling in that moment–if our muscles feel strong enough to continue climbing, if we’re worried about injuring ourselves, if we fear stepping into unknown territory–and on our ability to draw from that invisible reservoir our reserves of faith, courage, and determination.

Drawing from that reservoir takes skill and practice. We learn these skills in our poses. Each pose teaches us how to discern the difference between fear and fatigue, between anxiety and laziness, so that we know when to draw from that reservoir and move forward or when to hold back.

From my practice I’ve learned that determination doesn’t have to mean pushing ahead at all costs. It can mean learning to respect my limits, to take comfort in knowing that there is a reservoir available when I’m ready to move forward, if not on this day, than on another.

Learning this kind of respect for our body’s limits and working within these limits is what ultimately lets us push and stretch our bodies, expand our minds, and open our hearts to the unknown at a pace that is suitable for us.

There are days when it’s appropriate to rest between poses to regain our strength before the next pose, to lay down in Savasana, legs relaxed, arms at our sides, just breathing. We need to remember to honor where we are in the moment.

But on other days we know in our hearts that it’s not yet time to rest. There will be time for Savasana, just not yet. First there’s the pinnacle pose, the one that we’ve worked toward from the beginning of class.

We simply need to remember that when we’re ready we can draw from an invisible reservoir. We can find the faith and determination that we need to take that next step … and the next… so that we can move into the unknown of the next pose.

Practice Journal: How do you know when to draw from your invisible reservoir and keep pushing into a pose and when to pull back and rest? Perhaps you hear a voice of fear or anxiety? Or a voice of support and encouragement? Which voice do you listen to? Which voice do you ignore? How do you know when to rest and when to keep going in your practice … and in your life? Write: 10 minutes

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