Let’s just say that I, uh, had a friend (ahem) who once worked for a studio owner whose motto was “It’s all good.”
“Sorry, I’m a bit late, I was having trouble finding a parking spot.”
“No problem, it’s all good man.”
“The blankets need to be washed.”
“I hear you. It’s all good.”
“Uh, could I get my paycheck? It’s a week late.”
“Absolutely! it’s all good.”
Sometimes she felt a little concerned because many days he was clearly high as a kite while running the front desk – but she never had any serious run-ins with him. He was an amiable enough dude.
However, it soon became clear that the business was not doing well. She started to hear rumors. He had brought in a couple of big name teachers for events and ended up not paying them. He and his partner took lavish vacations abroad but at the same time, he was behind on his rent, he hadn’t paid the director of the teacher training, and the studio might be changing hands.
Things were definitely NOT “all good.”
When “it’s all good” is your philosophy, denial and avoidance become your partners in crime. And any ethical framework, including the yamas and niyamas become easy to dismiss or blissfully ignore.
But life is complicated.
And sometimes life is really hard.
Whitewashing that hardship with bumper sticker philosophy does not make complications evaporate. But, unfortunately, in the yoga world, “it’s all good” is a commonly bandied about platitude. As if having a positive attitude solves all problems. It doesn’t, in fact a positive attitude alone, without being grounded in the reality of problem-solving, relationship-building, real world goal setting and self-evaluation, and meaning-making, causes a lot of suffering.
It’s understandable. Many people are searching, they want a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in their lives.
Then they find a yoga community and are so relieved to be around so many bright, happy, beautiful people. They feel safe and supported, they feel like they can finally let go of their troubles and find some inner peace. They feel like they’ve come home.
But here’s the thing with yoga – after the honeymoon is over, you have to develop a willingness to unpack all your inner junk and sift through it.
You could say that this is the heart of the practice: removing the veils of illusion and ignorance. Those veils are often heavy and dirty and require some serious laundering (and just when you feel like the laundry is finally done…).
This former studio owner (obviously, that venture was not meant to last) and others with the “it’s all good” motto tend to misinterpret yoga as an easy solution – to use it as a kind of spiritual bariatric bypass surgery.
Spiritual evolution is a constant process of engaging, not detaching or dissociating, but engaging – with yourself, with others, and with the world. And that engaging process, at times, has a friction-like quality to it.
It’s through the friction that the inner diamond gets polished. If you want to grow, you have to be willing to put your nose to that grindstone again and again.
Sometimes it’s tolerable, and sometimes it’s utterly excruciating.
But that doesn’t mean you should avoid it.
For me, the concept of shraddha or “faith” becomes so important here – faith in yourself, faith in the process, faith in your higher power, faith in your support system, faith in life.
And when you get to the other side of the darkness there’s an overwhelming potential for peace, humility, and a lasting, profound shift into a deeper level of happiness, and sense of meaning and purpose.
It’s a process.
“It’s all good” denies this very fundamental evolutionary process and sets you back to the starting line.
Bumper sticker philosophy is fine for cars, but it can’t deliver the nuanced wisdom that emerges from examined experience.