Jan '08 Practice Notes

Finding Ease in Difficulty
by Jaye Fox

I have many difficult clients, but one in particular stands out as being especially frustrating. I first started working with them before I began my yoga practice, and I found myself constantly screaming about how many problems they brought me and how ridiculous I felt for taking them on as a client. Of course, nothing positive happened as a result of being so angry. Instead, I dreaded hearing from them, as I was certain it would only bring me more stress and aggravation. Moreover, it was unpleasant always being at odds.

A couple of years have passed, and we are still working on the same project. Recently, they left me out of the loop and moved ahead on a huge development, leaving me with a crucial, BIG, piece of work with a short deadline. After steeling myself, I looked through past e-mails to catch up on the changes that were being made and to find out exactly what I needed to do. I sent them a calm and friendly note, indicating how I thought some of the changes were problematic, but applauding them for one major change I had been begging them to make for years.

It was so much easier to approach the same situation with a sense that not everything that's challenging has to be hard, and knowing that it is not productive to meet challenges that other people put in front of you with anger. It is no more productive than being angry with myself for not being able to get a certain pose; what good would that do?

Dealing with difficult people and situations can be just like breathing into a pose, or seeing what kind of space I can make to better find an asana. Even just observing my gradual process of trying to find inversions and arm balances and finding energy from that, rather than thinking, "I'll never be able to do that!” (which is what I thought when I first started practicing), is seriously helping me to navigate life in a much easier way. Rather than seeing just the conflict and the friction and focusing on that, I feel like I am really learning to see the space that exists around the conflicts, and use that to round the sharp edges of difficulty.

Jaye Fox practices yoga in New York.

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