On unexpectedly beautiful days like yesterday, I make sure that I get out during the workday. I’ll ask a co-worker, “did you go out?” Often the response is, “I couldn’t go out; if I went out, I wouldn’t have wanted to come back in.” This is not an uncommon response. I so treasure the spaces of delight in the midst of any day, that it is hard for me to appreciate that response on an emotional or visceral level.
But what my co-worker is saying is that she will get so caught up in longing (pain) that pleasure for a short time is not worth the pain. Thinking about it in that way, I understand. Patanjali cautions us not to get caught up in the “pairs of opposites,” pleasure and pain. Both the longing for pleasure and the avoidance of pain take us out of the moment and make it hard for us to connect to the essence of being. If we are always yearning and avoiding, we cannot rest in the bliss of being.
When we take a walk outside, or stop to eat a nourishing lunch, or pause for five minutes to meditate during the work day, it will only have fleeting benefits if we do it just for the pleasure. If we can consciously bring ourselves into the moment and simply rest in our own being, then it will help us just be (in the state which is free from pleasure and pain/longing and avoidance) while we are in the whirlwind of activity and challenges of our day.