It never ceases to amaze me when I coincidently return to “The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” and this 7,000 year old text hits me upside the head and says, Let me explain to you what’s been going on in your life.
Sri Swami Satchidananda starts off:
“…the first obstacle is disease. Disease makes you dull, and a dull mind will doubt everything.
When doubt is there, there is a carelessness, a sort of lethargic attitude or laziness. And when the mind loses interest and alertness toward the higher goal, it has to do something else so it will slowly descend to the sensual enjoyments.”
“Dis-ease” is The Sinkhole; the place where the foundation beneath us broke open, swallowing us into an underworld, whether it’s a divorce, illness, addiction, getting fired, losing a loved one, or depression that causes us to doubt the breadth of our existence and our capability to achieve what we’d hoped for in life.
And when we’re in these places of grief, insecurity, and despair we may try to seek comfort in food, alcohol, shopping, or sex. We’re trying to invoke feeling good again rather than being overwhelmed with, I don’t know how to get myself out of this bleakness.
Feelings of shame and guilt may besiege us as we scold ourselves for why we’re not as virtuous or driven as we were before, when we lived above The Sinkhole, and we may be remorseful when we notice ourselves dwindling into an unkept ordeal.
You try to promise yourself that tomorrow, next week, the week after….I’m going to stop this nonsense and get back to where I was. But you don’t. And you make these attempts again, and again, to no avail.
Sri Swami goes on to note:
“Another obstacle is slipping down from the ground one has gained. The mind can’t function on the same level always – it has heights and depths.
Remember Yoga practice is like an obstacle race; many obstructions are purposely put on the way for us to pass through. They are there to make us understand and express our own capacities.”
Once we begin to make our way out of The Sinkhole, we may be surprised at our state of affairs: the weight gained, the cluttered household, or the relationships that took the brunt of our anguish.
This is when we learn to forgive the depths of our own humanity and have the courage to let go of expecting we could have done any better during this hardship. You were in The Sinkhole, living beneath the physical realm, a place that holds us captive until our emotional state has resolved itself.
We won’t always be on higher ground and when we slide down to a lower circumstance we have no control as to when we’re going to get out of it. We’re on a journey with no ETA. So in the meantime, we have to practice patience, kindness, and compassion toward ourselves.
In fact, we’re making our struggles worse by trying to impose further sanctions on ourselves. Just be where you are.
What you have gained is a comprehension, an openness, for the inexplicable consequence of humanity and how we can now give to others the exoneration they may not be able to give themselves.