Do you buy into the fact that everything on earth, including the earth itself, is made up of the same energy?  Do you feel like you walk the earth alone, an island, separate from everyone and everything, or do you feel connected, part of and at one with every living and non-living thing?  If I had to guess, I’d say most humans feel they are separate entities.

While teaching cycle class today I found myself continually saying “choose to stay”, “feel it, embrace the discomfort and choose to stay”.  In Debora Adele’s book “Yamas and Niyamas” she discusses one of the Niyamas, Tapas.  She tells the story of Jacob in the Bible, where he is physically fighting and wrestling with someone and at some point it occurs to him that rather than run from this person, he should hold onto him with all of his might until the very thing causing the discomfort blesses him and he learns what it is he needed to learn from the fight.

This concept carries over and translates to so many areas of life… on the mat, on the bike, at the gym, but the biggest and most important that stands out to me are the trials we are faced with in life.  Which, as a side note, I will say SUCK, ….. however, if I look back on the trials I have encountered, it is actually through them and because of them I have learned the most.  I used to beg God to take my trials away…. If you’ve ever tried this, you too, have probably realized He cannot be persuaded to remove the very thing that you begged Him to teach you before you came to this earth.  

The word Tapas translates not only to self-discipline, but also heat, catharsis, austerities, spiritual effort, change, tolerance, or transformation, as stated in Adeles book. 

Because I miss my son Levi profusely, as I was teaching cycle this morning my mind was drawn to my son on his $5000 mountain bike.  I recall when he took me mountain biking… did I mention that I miss that kid?  When I watch Levi ride it appears that he becomes one with his bike and works with his bike, rather than against it.  

Sometimes words accidentally start to exit my mouth before I can stop them and in class I began to say “become one with your bike, work with it, rather than against it”, “Embrace your bike and allow the resistance and discomfort to build, shape and strengthen you”, “Feel the discomfort and choose to stay”, “What if the adversity (bike, trial, difficult relationship, addiction) is the very thing you need, to get you to where you are supposed to go?”  

My mind took me back to my ride with Levi, watching him hold on tight to his bike as he maneuvered over rocks and rivers, hopping up railroad tracks and under tree branches. Not once did he push his bike off to the side and bail.  He appeared at all times to be connected to that bike, which seemed to be hugging the ground through some magnetic pull and it all worked together like magic.  The earth, the bike, and Levi, all made of the same energy, working together…. As if they were one, being guided by a higher power, with a perfect plan, as Levi stayed present, living in each moment, he held tight to the ride, and felt his way down that mountain, as if he were listening and obeying in each instant, thus knowing that if he chose to stay he would make it to the bottom safely.  

The coolest thing to watch was Levi holding tight to his bike, without panic, when it was necessary to leave the earth.  I watched as he jumped rocks, streams and up stairs.  My mind began to see the importance of holding onto the very thing we may often want to fight against or abandon, when we get scared or life gets hard.  Levi held to that bike in mid-air, all the way to the landing, as if it were a part of him.  I can just see myself trying that same stunt and abandoning the bike, pushing it as far away from me as I could, arms and legs flailing, with the idea that if I landed on that thing I would surely die.  I watched it so many times, Levi holding tight to the very thing that most may fight against or abandon, because it was seen as the enemy.  He embraced it, held onto it, became one with it, allowing the resistance and discomfort to become the very thing that shaped and molded him, eventually becoming his greatest love and bringing him so much joy.  

Thankfully my inner turmoil and angst cannot be seen in this text.  If I were to write freely the words and feelings that frequently come to mind you may send your mom over to sprinkle cayenne pepper in my mouth. I’m not suggesting this whole deal is easy.   I cannot tell you how many times Levi came home bloody, discouraged and angry, with a bent wheel and a scraped up bike… but he always got back on that bike, in fact, before cleaning up his own wounds, I would find him taking apart his beloved bike and cleaning each part with love, putting it back together and getting back on it to make sure it was going to serve him the next time he rode.

What if I loved, embraced and even had gratitude for the very things I am struggling with? Which leads me to the final thought I had on my bike….. Gratitude is one of the highest of all vibrational energies, when we are in a state of gratitude we cannot feel any other emotion…. If we can change our anger and contempt, our sadness and frustration into gratitude, I’m guessing we might successfully turn our trials into prized possessions.