Break the Shell

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MAY 23, 2012

Pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

-Rumi

I taught a pose in yoga class last week called Svarga-dvijāsana, a pose often translated as bird of paradise, or "twice born" in Sanskrit. A bird is born once as an egg, and then is born a second time when it emerges from it's shell as a bird. In order for the bird to really live, the safe little shell in which it dwells must break and dissolve. A scary and painful process perhaps, and one that feels all too familiar these days.

Like most people, I've avoided pain and practiced keeping it at bay by focusing on what was good and beautiful in life. If I practice yoga/meditate/eat well/drink/fill in blank enough, then I won't leave any room to experience pain and then it won't exist- or so I thought.

How often do we choose to remain eggs because it's more comfortable? How many times do we choose to stay within our perceived limitations of what's possible because it's all we've ever known? We fear pain as the adversary of joy and freedom, when it may actually be it's midwife. Even the emotions we call negative, when approached in the right way, allow greater access to the heart.

I'm learning to see the pain as an initiation into greater understanding, deeper compassion, a richer experience of life, and as an invitation to spread my new and awkward wings and see where they lead. I'm trying to embrace the pain as the breaking of the shell that encloses my understanding, and in so doing, am finding that paradise is not so much a destination, but a state of being.

Chantal Russell