I have a yoga mat made by a company called “holding.” It refers to a key concept in yoga: when we arrive at a difficult posture, one that causes discomfort, we stop carefully and notice it. We don’t react by flinching or jerking back, but we don’t shove forward either. We bring awareness to the physical (and mental, and emotional) sensations we’re experiencing in that posture. If there is physical pain, we carefully back out of the posture. Otherwise, we relax into it, breathe deeply and dance along the edge of discomfort.
It’s also called “riding the edge” in surfing and other sports, or “dancing on the edge,” which accurately portrays the practice of moving forward and back along the rim of discomfort. And there is great wisdom at the edge. It teaches us not only what we’re capable of physically, but also what our patterns of reactions are, mentally and emotionally.
In the face of discomfort, what arises? Fear, anger, judgment? And what’s our natural tendency–to ignore the sensations and shove blindly forward, thus risking pain and injury? Or do we run away from the difficulty, missing an opportunity to grow and advance?
This concept of holding the edge–neither forcing nor holding back–applies to most other areas of our lives. Relationships are best served if we show up fully and completely, not holding back but not forcing what can’t be forced. Successful careers are built on the concept of giving it your all, while not shoving forward into uncontrollable circumstances. And it applies to our food lives.