Did you ever watch a cat cough up a hairball? What I love about cats, and other creatures of the animal kingdom, is the way they flow with grace, regardless of the circumstances.

Clearly, there is nothing remotely pleasant about coughing up a hairball. One minute the cat is purring under the masterful touch of your hand. The next, every fiber of its being is contracted to get this hairball up and out of its body. Once the offensive substance is safely dislodged and sitting in a puddle of gastric juices on the floor, the cat is again ready to receive touch and reactivate its motor to show you just how much pleasure it is feeling.

The cat doesn’t slouch in the corner, annoyed that it just had to go through this offensive, unsavory experience. It doesn’t look at you as though you are to blame. Well, maybe it does just for a moment. But then it quickly moves on to self grooming. The point is, when it’s time to cough up a toxin, it fully engages in that. When that is done, it’s fully ready to lick its foot or be pet behind the ears.

Flowing with grace.

Animals can make it look so simple. But we humans have these huge brains sitting on our necks that so often get in the way. They store memories, and stories, reactions to events, patterns and co-patterns. What gets activated in us when something unsavory arises? Do we have a history with this particular brand of unsavory that causes us to tighten and resist around the experience?

Having a body and a mind is a recipe for complexity. The two belong to different worlds. The body is dense while the mind is light. It takes the body 7 full years to transform each one of its cells into something new. The mind, on the other hand, like the wind, can change on a dime. Is it any wonder we are left dazed and confused every now and then?

The practice of yoga is a practice of embodiment. How can we more fully embody the movements of the mind?

By being more like the cat and the hairball.

When pain and suffering arise, in the mind, the heart or the body, can we dance with the sensations? To what degree are we able to move with what is as it is happening? The light, the dark, the suave, the savage. And if we notice our tendency to retreat, to harden, to refuse, to blight, can we soften to that too? Oh, the beauty of being human. Are you in it for the dance?