In recent weeks, the babe battled the typical, lingering cough and stuffy nose that marks the change of seasons in our fair city. The symptoms were persistent, and after a few days I picked up something to help ease her discomfort. As with seemingly every product geared to the toddler set, the remedy came hidden in a sweet, fruit flavored syrup, the appeal of which was immediate and strong...
After her first few doses she began asking for medicine when offered the option of a dessert or special treat. No matter how many times I tried to explain that medicine is something we take to help us feel better, not because of its taste, she was undeterred. Throughout these deliberations I couldn't help thinking we are losing the context of what it means to "take your medicine." The grumpy voice on one shoulder muttered in my ear, "By removing every small inconvenience and unpleasant experience from our children's lives, we miss valuable opportunities to teach larger life lessons." The kinder and gentler voice on my other shoulder reasoned, "If the goal is to help our kiddos feel better and heal, why add an unnecessary struggle?"
I decided the latter voice had the stronger argument. Yes, it is important for our children (and ourselves) to encounter small challenges that prepare us for the larger and more consequential battles we will face in the future, but we needn't make things unnecessarily unpleasant.
We see this in our yoga practice, as well. At times we face discomfort when exploring our physical edge, which can help us grow and strengthen our bodies and minds. But just as often, we may realize we are making ourselves miserable for no reason and see that a simple shift in alignment or the use of a prop can help us more fully experience the benefits of a pose.
At some point everyone needs a bit of medicine. Often it comes in the form of a bitter pill - but occasionally it is sweet. What bitter pill can you replace with a sweet syrup? Try shifting your focus to the end goal you want to achieve and give yourself permission to choose the most pleasant way to get there...