I was in Yin yoga. I was in hanumanasana. I was in pain.
For those who don’t know, yin yoga is a practice of deep slow stretching, and hanumanasana is a deep stretch we would call in English a split. I preferred to call it torture, because I have very tight hips and hamstrings, and I cannot even get close to a split, and even pushing my body towards it generates marked discomfort in the stretch.
But there I was holding my body in this rebellion against all common sense for an eternity, or at least those three minutes that seemed like an eternity. But while I was there fighting my pain, a thought occurred to me: Is this pain, or is this freedom?
The thought took me aback, and I sat with it. (I literally had to sit with it, being stuck in that agony) There I was, experiencing physical discomfort, and that was a fact. There were nerve fibers that really were being stretched and were sending signals to my brain. But it hit me that the meaning I was assigning to this discomfort was entirely my own creation. Its meaning was entirely up to me.
I realized that I could choose to experience this discomfort as pain, as suffering, as hardship. If I did that, then I would curse it, bemoan it, be frustrated by it, fight against it.
Or I could choose to experience the discomfort as a sign that I was stretching, growing, learning, expanding, becoming free. Making that choice would open me to allow it, accept it, welcome it, become one with it.
The meaning I assigned to my discomfort became the basis for how I responded to it, and the response that meaning generated became my actual experience, became the reality of my life. Blessing or cursing. Suffering or salvation. It was all my choice.
Every single discomfort that comes into our lives, whether physical, mental, or emotional, will force us to choose. And what we choose is the meaning we assign to our discomforts. And those meanings create our experiences. And those experiences create our life. It is our choice to create a life of growth, of expansion, of freedom, regardless of the comfort or discomfort that we encounter. Choose your meaning, create your experience, live your best life today.