The Compassionate Edge

So often, in our Yoga practice and in our lives, we try to push ourselves further than we have been before. We want to get a little deeper into that backbend, or run that extra mile, or get that job that will challenge us in new ways. It is this desire to reach beyond our comfort zone that helps  us to change, evolve and grow. Many times, once we’ve pushed ourselves to our perceived “limit”, we discover that we are in fact capable of even more and so we set our sights on a new goal.

Most growth is meant to be done in small amounts, bit by bit. If we reach too far before we have the foundation to support our growth, we crumble. And so as we are doing this dance, this vinyasa flow through life, (breathing growing changing evolving pushing) we need to identify our edge for that day, that moment. How far do I push in this moment? How much is appropriate for where I am right now?

But how do we find our edge? How do we define it? And how do we perceive it once we’ve established the edge for us?  Being driven towards a goal is a wonderful thing, but who or what is doing the driving? Is it judgement? Greed? Ambition?

I have not personally met any human who was ever completely immune to these driving forces. We all have a tendency to see our flaws or shortcomings through judgmental eyes and to wish we could change them immediately. And we have all experienced the overwhelming sensation of greed – wanting more or better of some thing. This is very common in an asana practice – one we’ve mastered a particular pose that we perhaps couldn’t do a month or so before, we immediately want to move into the next, deeper expression of the pose. We want more, more more! And ambition, this desire for success that we’ve all felt, can lead us down all sorts of ego-enhancing paths. It’s not wrong to wish to be successful at something, but do we want to be successful so that we can “have” or “own” success? Or do we want to be successful so that we can relish the satisfaction of having done something well?

This bit by bit growth, slowly and over time, is best driven by compassion. When we can look at ourselves through compassionate eyes, we can easily identify our edge for each day, for each moment.  When our goal becomes to find our own compassionate edge, we can no longer be driven by judgment or greed or ambition. Instead we’ll be driven by a desire to find the absolute best that we have within us for the time being, without any desire or even willingness to risk harm of any kind by pushing beyond that. We know that with each day and each moment within each day, will come a new opportunity for growth. The edge will keep moving further and further, as we discover our full capabilities.

Finding my compassionate edge, as a yogi, as a mother, as a person living my life, is what I’m working on right now, my fellow yogis.