The World is Not Your Enemy

This post brought to you courtesy of a hot yoga savasana. The world is not your enemy.

I hear yoga practitioners and teachers talk about this frequently. “Everything is peaceful in this room, so enjoy it, because it’s not going to be peaceful once you leave studio.” In fact, anybody who finds moments of serenity, whether from meditating, going on vacation, or watching back to back episodes of “Mad Men”, can start to believe the outside world is your enemy. Within your own personal sanctuary, things are in control. You’ve created your ideal conditions for a calm, soothing experience. Just outside the door,  the world is just waiting to take you down, to steal your happiness, to disturb your peace.

The world is not your enemy.  The world is, simply, not about YOU or ME. That can be difficult for us to accept. Though we claim to know that the world does not revolve around each one of us, we often react and behave as if that was exactly how the sun and stars were aligned. Our egos are the real reason we struggle with the outside world, why we feel we are constantly engaged in battle. Our environment isn’t hostile to us and our interests- it’s just full of a lot of things that are not in our control.  But it’s quality, not quantity that really counts here. The elements that are yours to determine- your breath, your thoughts, your body language, have much more to do with your mental and emotional state than anything or anybody else.

Any person, any sound, any moment has the potential to be a distraction. Or not. We have that choice to make each and every time. You can begin to take ownership of those decisions, to recognize how great a force you wield by consciously choosing your responses over and over again. As this conscious choosing becomes a skill, it becomes easier to choose peace. The struggle begins to fall away.

The unexpected brings you the chance to find beauty and love in places you never thought to look. I have been brought nearly to tears by a sudden appreciation for a dirty little city block I tread every single day. (Okay, if you know me, you’ll know I wasn’t near tears, I was AT tears) Nothing about the streets and the buildings had changed. But on that day, I was different. Seek out and be open to what’s surprising and new.

The world is not your enemy; the world is an opportunity. It’s a chance to expand the list of what soothes you, a chance to challenge yourself and search for peace in difficult situations. Because difficulties do arise in our lives, and the more we have practiced for them, the better equipped we will be to deal with them when they show up on our doorstep. Your interior place is a refueling station; it’s where you recharge and replenish. The outside world is all of the places you travel to and all the experiences you have in between refueling. While replenishing is a wonderful thing, I want to spend my life on the road, instead of parked at a gas station.

Be well.