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Finding the Ease

By Emily Milner

I stand in warrior one, basic yoga, my back foot flattened, my arms lifted, fingers splayed.
“Engage the hands,” my teacher says. “Deepen the bend in your front knee. See how far down you can come.”

I engage my hands, deepen the bend. “Now hold,” she says. “We’re going to be here for a while.”

So I hold, and she keeps talking. “Pull your thighs into midline,” she says. My thighs cooperate, a little. “Find the ease of the pose.”

When she says “find the ease of the pose” I just want to say “Ha! There is no ease!” But that would interfere with my yoga breathing, so I don’t. Sometimes I find that ease, that place where I can hold this position longer than I ever thought I would. I breathe through it, I let it become part of my body.

This day, we hold. And hold. All my muscles shake. By the end I am crying from despair. There is no ease to be found. Until three minutes later, when we come out of the pose. And into warrior two, the next one.

I have only recently discovered yoga, and so I’m sure all the connections I make between yoga and life have already been found by many others. But finding the ease of the pose reminds me of a morning when I had to clean up diarrhea, vomit, and pee from three different kids, and in the midst of so much smelliness and fatigue I quit feeling sorry for myself and started to laugh. It was the nitty gritty dirt of mothering, and somehow it was too awful to be upset about anymore. I found the ease instead, acknowledging the yuckiness of the moment and just letting it be, working through, without getting indignant about it, the way I usually do.

I found the ease, eventually, with new nursing babies, with a broken leg, with my mission. For me, it’s impossible to find the ease if I don’t acknowledge first that what I’m dealing with is hard. Maybe not hard for someone else, but hard for me, and that is enough. Even basic yoga is hard if you have to hold the poses long enough.

It’s also impossible to find the ease if I dwell on that difficulty, if I tell myself it is too hard. Finding the ease is that place where I say, this is very hard, and relax into that reality, allow myself to hurt, until it’s through. Then life shifts me into a new pose, and I begin to find the ease again.

How do you find the ease in your life?

About Emily Milner

(Poetry Board) graduated from BYU in Comparative Literature, but it was long enough ago that most of what she learned has leaked out. She would like to mention other hobbies or interests, but to be honest she spends most of her free time reading (although she does enjoy attempting yoga). She used to blog at hearingvoices.wordpress.com. For now, though, Segullah is her only blogging home, and it's a good one.

21 thoughts on “Finding the Ease”

  1. I find the ease by being as prepared as I possibly can be, then going with the flow. When my kids would suddenly get sick in the night and I realized I'd have to change plans for the next day, I would try to embrace it all….see it as a day off…a day to slow down and just take care of them. Looking back, those were the sweetest days.

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  2. I have a really hard time with this. I am extremely high strung, so I actually go to Yoga once a week for the express purpose of finding mental ease. Sometimes I try to do the same mental letting go during my regular week that I do in yoga, but it's harder in real life.

    I liked the idea that humor is a way of finding ease. I love when I notice the humorous side of whatever mess has just exploded all over creation and the coffee table.

    Sometimes if I am in a real emotional dither, I have to run it off.

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  3. Sometimes when I do yoga I purposely think the phrase "I can do hard things." It gets me through holding those blasted poses for so long. Really, though, it was through doing yoga that the idea of how important it is to learn to push through tough stuff and remain still really crystallized for me. Great post!

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  4. Ah, I've been writing on a similar subject today (though we'll see if I ever get it out of my draft folder).

    I'm in the middle of something right now (yeah, one of those horrible life trials that you can't talk about) and I CAN'T find the ease. When my husband left this morning he said, "I know this is hard. But you have to find a way to be happy."

    I know I do. I'm trying.

    I think of Joseph Smith's words, "But nevertheless, deep water is what I am wont to swim in." 127:3. I don't think anyone of us can avoid the deep waters. But I'd rather be snorkeling right now.

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  5. I love this, Emily! I, too, have found so many life lessons in yoga. Not only have I learned that I can do hard things, but I've also learned the value of stillness, the trick of stretching just a little farther than I thought I could but not so far that I do damage to myself, and the vital need of always, always returning "to center."

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  6. I love, love, love this post!!!

    For me finding the ease comes most readily when I set myself aside – get over myself, in layman's terms.

    Other people state it as "giving up and giving to God."

    I live in the moment serving and forgetting about me. That's not to say that I neglect me. I just move the focus outside of me and my emotions or my reactions to live in the moment.

    I'm not a yoga enthusiast, but do birth at home. Our last birth was unassisted (that is without a midwife – just my husband and me) and I found the ease by stepping past the discomfort and hard work by forgetting about me and focusing on our baby and focusing on the atonement. I know it sounds bizarre, but even Christ knows the pain of childbirth.

    Take whatever your hardest trial is and hand it over to the Lord. Get over yourself and go and serve.

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  7. I remember a very difficult time when we had lost most of the securities we take for granted. I remember thinking, "This is too difficult". There is too much: dirt, ugliness, unsanitary conditions, etc. I dreaded the thought of our two-week-old infant learning to crawl; where could he in safety? How could I manage a happy demeanor for our older children?

    I decided to do a "Corrie-Ten-Boom". I made myself say I was grateful for every blinking thing I hated. Everyday. To myself.

    It took several months of constant work. Then one day, as I swam through the noise and wonder of family life I realized I was happy, really, peacefully, absolutely happy.

    I was the only thing that had changed. It was a miracle to me. I believe it was a gift from God.

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  8. For me, "finding the ease" has been a learned skill. In young adulthood, I strained and fretted through every new "pose" life sent me. I was always waiting for life to get back to "normal," for the ordeal (whatever it was) to be over. I constantly compared my "good life" before the event/challenge and my "sadly marred life" now that things had changed. I would judge my circumstances and then judge them again, holding up the awfulness of it all like some kind of shrine to misery and misfortune. In short, I kicked against the pricks, fought the flow, and ruminated. (Interestingly, I managed to do this without anyone noticing. In other words, I held it all in. NOT a good thing…)

    No wonder the Lord has blessed me with opportunities to confront so many challenges! He definitely knows what He's doing, because facing up to them has worked for me. At nearly 60, I am much more "comfortable with being uncomfortable." I've also come to understand, at long last, that trouble IS normal… intermingled with joy, sorrow, and a myriad of other feelings. I may not welcome thorns in my flesh, exactly, but I now endure them with increased patience and far less agenda because experience has taught me that I can trust the Lord to carry me through any situation and bring me out the other side better and brighter for it.

    Don't get me wrong. I still have to work at acceptance of trials. But I sure do process that initial phase more quickly and come to a truce with issues more readily. Which proves that there's something to be said for age. (I knew there had to be SOMEthing!) Let's face it. The more accustomed one becomes to the cycle of growth, the more accustomed one becomes to the cycle of growth. And it does get easier to deal with (and even hold, if necessary) the requisite poses.

    Good analogy. Thanks!

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  9. You are wise women, all of you. You have made me think about finding the ease in new ways–being prepared, ease as service, Corrie Ten Boom style gratitude. Thank you.

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  10. Clever post, I am a firm believer in faking it till you make it!
    I think the truest ease I ever felt was on my mission. When you let go of the world and pray a thousand times a day!
    My mission was so hard but I was able to focus on my purpose in a way that I can't as a mother.

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  11. Great post and great discussion; I really needed it today. Being pregnant, having a difficult 3-year-old, and waiting for the bank to release the house that we're trying to buy have got me tied up in knots. Seriously–I think my shoulders are permanently stuck somewhere up around my ears!

    I'm reminded of other difficult times–I think for me it is a conscious decision to surrender to the moment. I have a hard time living in the moment–I always want to escape to somewhere else taht will be better. One of my personal mantras is 'the only way out is through'

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  12. My ease comes in deliberately working to find and re-find and find again my spiritual center. To remember why I am really here, and that God is really there.

    I don't know that I could ever do yoga, so you are my hero.

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  13. Two extremely valuable truths here, Emily: the reality of "the ease" and the release that comes when you find it, and the hard fact that sometimes we just can't.

    "These are the times that try (wo)men's souls." Spoken, appropriately enough, by Thomas Paine.

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  14. What a great post! I've also learned many life lessons doing yoga–except I haven't done it for awhile. Going to start again Friday!

    When my Father-in-law died recently and people asked how we were doing, I would say that things were hard. Somehow that did help me get through it. Acknowledging the pain was the first step in moving forward.

    I also agree with those who have recommended humor as a way to "ease" into the pose. Once when I was carrying vomit-soaked sheets in the middle of the night to the laundry and found the basement flooded all I could do was laugh!

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  15. Kathy, yes, sometimes the ease just isn't there. But when I find it, it's a beautiful thing.

    m&m, I am really rotten at it. Truly. But in the brief time I have been practicing, I have seen my flexibility and strength increase dramatically. You have to start somewhere. BYUTV has yoga classes available online, for instance.

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  16. Sage, vomit sheets plus flooded basement–I think that trumps poop, pee, and vomit.

    But I guess it's not a comparison game, is it. My teacher always tells us to honor wherever our bodies are at, and I think that applies to honoring where your spirit is at too.

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  17. the reality of “the ease” and the release that comes when you find it, and the hard fact that sometimes we just can’t.

    Dontca think that sometimes it has to find us? I think sometimes trying to find it only adds to the dis-ease that we can feel. I know at least for me, that has sometimes been the case. The peace and answers sometimes come through the back door, not in ways that are natural.

    Maybe that is another yoga lesson. There is nothing natural about many of the poses, let alone of choosing to hold and lean into the pain. But sometimes that is what we have to do in life, and sometimes it is only through the pain that we can find some ease, somewhere, sometimes only we have been through, only after, only looking back with the perspective born of experience.

    ??

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