In case you’re just coming out of a long retreat in the Himalayan mountains or you’ve been hiding out in the Yukon, then you’re probably aware that today is election day in the U.S.
This, I promise you, is not a political post, rant, infomercial or endorsement. The time for all of that is done. Maybe by late tonight or within a few days (or weeks) we’ll know who will lead the U.S. government.
In the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, a series of 196 sayings (sutras or threads), there are very few references to the physical poses or asanas we think of today as yoga. The Sutras are about the philosophy, the mental hindrances and lifestyle choices of living as a yogi. The first reference to a posture is Sutra 2:46: sthira sukham asanam. This can be read as “a steady comfortable position or pose.”
Steady can also mean the idea of stability, of being able to withstand the changing seasons, of remaining steadfast in the face of storms (or elections). An old story is told of a conversation between a reed and an old tree beside a river. The tree was boasting of its height and strength and intimidating the young reed. When the spring rains came and the river washed higher and higher it toppled the tree when it’s shallow roots were exposed. The reed flattened itself down on the bank as the water washed over and when the storm had passed, the reed slowly lifted back up to see the tree gone.
This is the blending of stability and flexibility, of strength and comfort, of stability and ease. There must be the ability to stay grounded, but also to respond with flexibility and comfort to life’s challenges.
Whoever wins the election tonight in the short-term matters, but in the long-term it is just another passing storm. It should not impact our stability or our ease. The challenge is for us to maintain our stability and our comfort through any adversity. For me the answer is in the breath, by maintaining a steady, comfortable breath, I can maintain a steady, comfortable pose and a steady, comfortable mental state. When my breath becomes agitated, so will my mind and body. The breath are like the reins that guide and calm the galloping horse.
So as the election results come in tonight, challenge yourself to remain stable, steady and comfortable in your breath, in your body, and in your mind, no matter the storm, no matter the result.