Jigsaw of life

Category : Asanas (Postures), General advice, Philosophy 29th May 2022

Inside Yoga 322 (30/5/2022)

Our busy lives are made up of multiple parts, which when it is going well are all positioned in the right place, like a completed jigsaw puzzle, but when something happens to throw a piece out of place then it can feel like the whole puzzle is ruined, or rather our life is now in chaos and the stress levels shoot up. How do we deal with these episodes in our lives?

Just last week I had one of these moments when my jigsaw had a piece thrown out of place. It was Thursday and I was sitting by a hospital bed waiting for scheduled surgery that morning, when a manager came into see me with bad news: my surgery had to be cancelled. The surgeon had called in sick, and no, she was very sorry, but they tried to find a solution for surgery that day, but not possible. I had to go home.

Surprise and shock are not pleasant feelings. My first thought was my work, being self-employed taking time off work means loss of income, and with something like surgery it had meant I had spent previous week making arrangements, I had cancelled classes, venues, students had made changes themselves to allow for this, the jigsaw looked like it had been adjusted successfully.

And now this, my mind raced as I sat in the chair, looking at the manager, but not really seeing her because I was busy working out what to do, could I do anything, comically I suppose, I pointed at another surgeon and asked can’t he do it? Stress levels shot up, and after preparing mentally and emotionally for surgery, this was not a blow I had prepared for; instead, I had been preparing myself for those questions we ask surgeons like recovery time and hoping it goes to plan.

This was not meant to happen. And this is why it caused stress. I asked if they can do the surgery the next day (Friday)? And she indicated very unlikely, plus, she did not know, but maybe Monday. Meetings had to be held later that day. I was to wait: don’t we hate waiting?!

But first I had to leave the building: I was escorted off the premises by the manager to a waiting taxi, as she apologised and said she will be in touch later that day.
Once home, waiting for a call from the hospital, I felt like I was in limbo. It’s like waiting for a bus without knowing the timetable. And this does highlight one factor which unsettles us, uncertainty and importantly, not being in control. Others were now in charge of my jigsaw. I did practice letting go, with a bit of success – brief moments of calm, but I was still waiting anxiously.

I did work on seeing the big picture, and accepted that in the long run, it will all be worked out, and I will look back relieved it is over, but then, as I was waiting for the call, I still felt anxious because this situation was not yet resolved, making it hard to rest as I was tired, nor able to read a book without being a distracted.

Later that day, I got a call asking me to return Monday. After the bad news in the morning, I welcomed this with relief; because all I wanted was the job done! And my jigsaw kept in place; because Monday was within the period I had cancelled work, but the one downside is I now had less time for recovery.

If I had been told I had to wait weeks I would have felt annoyed because it would mean even more loss of work and therefore income; and yes, I had told myself, see the big picture, it will be sorted in the end, because teaching oneself acceptance and surrender to the situation is possible but still difficult!

Once given the news that I had four days to wait, I started to feel a lot better, and slept well that night. My jigsaw had a new shape and I could work around that.

And this is the reason why I am sharing this tale.

That bad news is never comfortable, it affects us all to varying degrees, and the idea that our lives are like a jigsaw is one way of describing that bad news is not always about the one item, but the rest of our jigsaw of life that is thrown up in the air, with the uncertainty of not knowing how it will land back down. We don’t like being messed about do we? I could not control what was happening.

Bad stuff happens, sure, we know that; but it also worth remembering this because practising yoga asanas (exercises), meditating on impermanence; and focusing on breathing are the tools which can help us reduce the negative impact on our body and mind, but practice does not stop situations arising. That is why it is a practice; not a preventative strike which removes all obstacles forever.
During this episode, I used my training as best I could, and I would wholeheartedly state that the next morning, my yoga asanas session felt so good, I was back where I wanted to be (or rather I shed those negative feelings in my body and mind).

Stress and anxiety can cause havoc not just on our mind, but also our body. That’s why we can feel such a wreck after a bad time. And this is why I use yoga asanas regularly, it helps shed some of the bad stuff stuck in our body and mind each practice and if it goes really well, one session might get rid of it all. At the end we can feel lightness and a sense of freedom…. That is the moment we cherish; because it might not last long. The next practice will be needed.

Another reason why I share this tale is that practising yoga, meditating and being trained in these philosophies, does not mean I am immune from stressful feelings and thoughts; on the contrary, I practice because I recognise that I need the practice. I often feel anxious, sometimes it might have a direct source like being sent home from hospital or it might not have a source (I call it non-descript anxiety); and in many ways, I accept that this is part of life (it can be argued that this is our survival instincts helping us survive by making us alert – anxious – to possible dangers ahead), and at the same time, I know I have the tools and experience (yoga, meditation, etc) to reduce and remove these unwanted feelings and thoughts: until the next time.

Life is filled with changes and unpredictability; we might not like it, but this is what life is. And I will find out, because I am posting this story the night before surgery…

A thought for the week: Any questions or comments contact me via the blog reply panel below or email gary@yogabristol.co.uk

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(2) comments

2 years ago · Reply

Just read your blog which resonated with me as ‘my jigsaw’ kept being disrupted over the bank holiday so I did a mini-yoga session on Saturday morning which helped reset my mind and body.

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