I was in downward dog and sweat was dripping from me like I was a leaky pipe when our yoga instructor, Grace Morales, started talking to us about the concepts of Duka and Suka in yoga.
The instructors like to talk to us during challenging sequences to give us something to think about besides our screaming muscles.
Duka and Suka are a lot like yin and yang with Duka being sweetness or happiness and Suka being bitterness or discomfort.
Grace went on to say that many people confuse suffering for discomfort. Suffering is not the same thing as discomfort.
True suffering is living in chains, lacking physical, emotional, or spiritual freedom. Discomfort is something that you are willing to endure to escape suffering or save others from suffering.
It seemed like a very appropriate topic for today as we celebrate our nations independence and salute all those who have struggled – and those who continue to suffer and die – for our freedom.
While our men and women in uniform are a very obvious example of the concept of discomfort endured to avoid suffering there are also a hundred little ways that we do this everyday. We are willing to suffer the discomfort of traffic to spend time with our friends. We put our bodies through exercises that are uncomfortable to make ourselves stronger and healthier. We take off work and dress up the family so that we can have tangible memories of the joy in this stage of our lives through photography.
Yoga teaches that Duka and Suka are both things that we need to experience and accept to have a full life. It teaches that rather than thinking of the two forces in opposition, like two kids pulling on a rope in a tug of war, to think of them as a circle. The more of both forces that we invite into our life, the larger our circle of experince becomes and the more rich and full a life we are able to lead.
As I celebrate this forth of July I am trying to be more mindful so that when discomfort comes along, as it always will, I can ask myself what benefit I stand to gain through this discomfort.
I hope that you have a happy and safe 4th of July. God bless America!