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My mat is my microcosm. Everything I encounter in my day-to-day materializes on my mat in one form or another. The parking space someone stole from me (a.k.a. the spot in the first row of the hot room, two spaces from the left, where I always place my mat). The critique from a coworker (that sounds exactly like the voice in my head when I can’t balance in tree pose). Class after class, my yoga mat shows me where I am stuck and where I am growing.

I read this quote recently and found myself taken aback:

“Do I want the present moment to be my friend or my enemy? The present moment is inseparable from life, so you are really deciding what kind of relationship you want to have with life.”

– Eckhart Tolle

Imagining life as a friend or an enemy seems a bit obvious. Life is a friend, of course! Life is breathing, life is evolving, life is loving. Right? Then why does the present moment so often feel like my enemy? Calling customer service and never getting a human being, finding your email has been hacked and you’ve spammed all of your contacts, realizing it’s your best friend’s birthday only after seeing her post on Instagram, having your rent raised and your sister get sick. The list grows longer and the burdens heavier.

And I’m supposed to make friends with this present moment? I read the quote again and land on the words, “…you are really deciding…”

Which brings me back to the mat and the practice. My mat is my microcosm and your mat is yours. We voluntarily place our worlds next to each other and practice living, breath by breath, moment by moment, together. When I see my ‘parking space’ has been taken, I notice my expectation but I lay my mat down somewhere else (note to self: go somewhere new next class). When I literally topple out of toppling tree and my nit-picking inner voice starts nagging, I decide to keep trying, to topple again.

Through all that arises and all that is released, we decide. We are both autonomous and interdependent. How you move informs me and how I breathe influences you. We submit to the same conditions, yet depending on the day, we struggle or we soar, by how we define our experience. Whatever the case, we continue relating to the present moment. We continue showing up and we keep practicing.

– Kimberlee Soo