I am fairly certain the majority of us have heard the expression "God doesn't give you more than you can handle", right? Well, I was flipping around between radio talk shows the other day when I heard the host say how offensive he found that expression to be! I was kind of stunned (well, not kind of). I am pretty sure I exclaimed, "What?!" out loud. Offensive? I couldn't even begin to grasp that perspective so I stuck around to listen.
To start with , his dislike of the saying had nothing to do with God or religion or faith so let's remove that from the equation and rewrite the expression as, "Nobody is given more than they can handle."
The radio host went on to say that when someone is suffering or grieving, saying "nobody is given more than they can handle" is like saying 'buck up'. That it is like saying since we already know you can handle this on the mere basis that you were given it, you might as well stop crying about it.
I thought, "Really?" I have always felt this expression was a reminder of our inner strength. We are human and, therefore, suffer and grieve at times. But, because we are human, we need to be reminded of the strength we have inside. How many times have any of you felt so overwhelmed you thought to yourself I cannot take one thing more? Like you are trying to keep your head afloat while your legs work double time to tread the water below the surface? Many times, right? But you made it. You are reading this right now so I know you tapped into your inner strength to come out on the other side. Maybe you are in the throes of being overwhelmed right now...what do you say to yourself as a reminder that you are strong and will make it through to better days?
I altered the following quote slightly because the original speaks to women but I wanted it to be all inclusive...
"A person's strength isn't just about how much he or she can handle before they break. It's also about how much they must handle after they are broken."
I read a great quote from a cancer survivor's blog (which I will credit when I find it again). She said something like yoga saved my soul when all I had gone there for was a tight tush. Yoga is your reminder of strength, sometimes physical but mostly mental and emotional and spiritual. Sitting still and watching your breath will directly link you to that Inner Spirit you have, the one that knows you are strong. I also read recently you cannot know Brahman (your inner Self) if you do not know Vayu, which is the Sanskrit word for air.
So, is saying you will not be given more than you can handle a powerful reminder of strength or a slap across the face of sorrow? I guess it comes down to perspective so I leave you with the following:
"Once or twice in our lives, we are given the chance to find out just how much inner strength we possess. Usually we find we have far more than we ever imagined."
I just got back from taking my dog outside. He still wants to run even though one leg is bound to his body while his shoulder break heals. He pulled me halfway into the next yard and then looked at me too tired to make it back; so he layed down in the grass. I knelt next to him not able to lift his 65lbs without somehow putting pressure on the shoulder so we stayed put.
He was so happy to be there. He sniffed the grass then stretched his neck so the grass would rub against his face. I heard him take a deep breath in, which was followed by a loud cleansing sigh. He closed his eyes and I just sat there in my Garland pose squat. At first , my thoughts centered on wondering how long could I sit like that before my knees would not be able to re-straighten. But the dog's contentedness reeled my mind back in to the sweet pleasures of sitting in the grass and doing nothing but rubbing every part of him I could get to. It somehow reminded me of picnics in our playset when the kids were tiny.
Stretching out some more, Izzo then somehow managed to flip onto his back, three long legs reaching out through the air, his belly mine to rub next. He was just so happy there. He rolled over towards me when he felt ready, this time settling his heavy body on top of my feet. I stood (slowly!) feeling how rooted to the earth I was with his weight upon me. It was a reminder we all need a moment to feel grounded and centered. It was a reminder how the simplest things can make us, and even a dog, smile.
When we finally made it back across the yard about forty minutes later, he tried to settle into his bed but he couldn't get comfortable. The cushiony bed filling just could not be a replacement for the damp nurturing grass. And I understood.
Those of you who have taken any of my yoga classes know that the reason I theme each class is to help you separate the poses from the rich spirituality that yoga offers the mind and spirit. Anyone can do yoga poses...anyone. If you just rolled your eyes and thought of some of the harder crazier poses, you have allowed the ego to step in and say, Ha! You cannot do that. But if you stop to think again, your heart knows that you can do a yoga pose. It might be child's pose, it might be tree, it might be corpse, it might be warrior, it might be a stretch or it might be a twist but you can do at least one and so you can practice yoga.
What I fear is that not everyone is being offered or making the connection to how your yoga practice becomes a life skill for your mind. What I am writing right now is not something I have presented as a "theme"; it is more of a blog, I suppose. My week has been a series of really amazing highs and breath-squandering lows. But what I noticed this week, more than any other, is that I didn't have to remind myself to stay present or to breathe, it just happened and the sense of calmness I have maintained on the inside has been surreal.
I have looked at every "life event" this week with the understanding the Universe knows best. When my son broke his toe and we had to cancel a baseball tournament in Nebraska that was already paid for up front, my next thought was the Universe is slowing us down for a reason. And, oh, yes it was! Our greyhound broke his scapula. We would have left him at home with a caretaker while we were gone but the Universe knew the depths of this injury and prepared us to be here for four weeks of slings and cratings. I allowed my mind the human-ego satisfaction of thinking about what led to this, how it could have been prevented and what comes next but I was never attached to those thoughts. I kept coming back to these are the facts of where I am now; what do I do in this moment?
I have uttered the word gratitude so many times because I am so grateful. I am grateful I can offer the dog Reiki, grateful he is alive, grateful my son only broke a toe, even grateful he was having fun when it happened...I am grateful the rain stayed away for my daughter's graduation party while being grateful I own many blankets so guests could bundle up.
Each day, each hour, each moment. One hobbling step forward at a time, perhaps, but always forward. Going back to the HS graduation for a moment, I was surprised but not surprised (can't think of the right word) at how many parents were sad. People kept asking me are you sad? I am convinced it is my spiritual practice of yoga that didn't understand this question. I am excited looking forward to what comes next! And, when I say next, I mean tomorrow and then the next tomorrow. I look forward to seeing how our paths' unfold and am grateful life continues to move forward.
I know everyone can "do yoga". But it is my hope for yogi's everywhere (from brand new to advanced) that the realization of what yoga is outside of the poses finds its way into your everyday life. Without this aspect of the practice...well, my yoga reminds me not to dwell on what would have been in the past.