Written by Sharon Brooke Uy
Every day I show up for practice at the yoga studio, I always place my mat down in the same exact spot. Back right corner of the room, directly next to the door. For over five years, this has been “my spot.” Teachers and regulars alike know this. It’s not necessarily that I can’t practice in another place, I just very much prefer this one. I read a passage in Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart, which made me start to truly ponder why. She wrote of how, when she used to frequent sweat lodges, she insisted on sitting by the door. If she knew she had a way of escaping the intense heat at any point, she could relax. But if she were sitting far away from the door, panic might ensue, and it’d take her mentally out of her stillness. Reading this struck a chord within me, and I wanted to dig a little deeper to figure out why I often “sit next to the door” in various areas of my life – career, relationships, yoga.
I didn’t figure it out entirely, but what I came up with is this: Commitment can be scary. Commitment can sometimes be loosely translated to being stuck. At least for me, the idea of being “stuck” has always made me nervous. But it also has had the power to submit me into non-action. The beautiful thing about yoga is how it addresses this fear. I’ve found that the best yoga classes are the ones in which I am challenged, but ultimately encouraged to listen to my body. One yoga teacher begins her classes by reminding us that if staying in savanasa for the next 90 minutes is what would serve the body and the mind best, then that is what should be done.
There’s a story I heard about a man who was intently observing a butterfly in the process of emerging out of its cocoon. He saw the butterfly struggling to push through this tiny hole, and he decided to help it along. He gingerly cut the hole a tiny bit bigger, enough for it to pass. The butterfly, instead of floating to the sky, sank to the ground. And there it remained, its belly swollen and its wings shrunken. The butterfly needed the pressure of pushing itself out of the hole – in its own time – to push the fluid from its belly into its wings. Forcing it to fly before it was ready resulted in its lifelessness.
Maybe the point isn’t to dwell on why I sit by the door. Maybe it just simply is.
All signs point to faith, patience, and presence. It is said that fear is borne out of obsessing on the future, and depression is based on residing in the past. Instead of pining for answers and receiving anxiety in return, I can remain in this moment, and keep my place by the door, because it is what feels right, right now. The answers will come – they always do – with stillness, meditation, and mindfulness.