Ep. 25 | The Wisdom to Know the Difference | Serenity Prayer Part 3

The Wisdom to Know the Difference | Serenity Prayer Part 3


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I think one of the goofiest things I hear yoga teachers say is that we store our emotions in our hips. I’ve heard the hips referred to as the body’s “junk drawer.” If you’ve taken enough yoga classes, you’ve probably heard this “wisdom" before.


Aside from the fact that this statement isn’t rooted in any science, it’s not exactly how hips or emotions work. 


Have you ever stubbed your toe and let out a big ol’ “fuckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!!!,” because that shit hurt like hell, and then maybe got angry for a second (or many, multiple seconds)? 


Would we say that anger is stored in our big toe? Um, no—no, we would not.


I think rather than saying certain body parts hold emotions, we could say that our whole body holds all of our emotions, and that sometimes pain or other bodily sensations can evoke emotions or thoughts, sometimes unexpectedly.


Sensations can evoke emotions in the body and can bring out all sorts of stuff that may or may not have anything to do with what’s actually happening right now.


Our emotions can serve as data, but they don’t tell the whole story. Feelings are not facts.


The serenity prayer says: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. 


Often times, in a moment of distress over people, places, things, and situations, I take a moment to break down a situation into three components: 


  1. Accept the things I cannot change.
  2. Courage to change the things I can.
  3. Wisdom to know the difference.


In this episode I talk about wisdom to know the difference as a process of discernment.


To discern means I can learn to know the difference between what is mine and what is other peoples; things I can change and things I can’t change; feelings from facts.


The wisdom to know the difference is a reminder that our thoughts and emotions are not always accurate reflections of reality. 


It's important to acknowledge our thoughts and emotions, but also to recognize when they are clouded by fear, anger, or frustration. 


When we have the wisdom to know the difference, we can choose to respond, rather than react to the challenges that come our way.


I love taking this principle to the mat.  A yoga practice can teach you to surrender to the present moment, to release the desire to control everything, and to accept what is. This practice helps you cultivate the wisdom to know the difference between what you can control and what you can't, your body as it is versus how you wished it would be, and to not waste energy on things that are beyond your control. By doing so, we can live a more present and content life. You can learn to cultivate discernment on the mat.


So, the next time you stub your big toe and it brings up all of the dumb things Brad at the office said to you last week at the photocopy machine, remember, wisdom to know the difference.


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