Seems a likely time to talk about monsters on the day after Halloween but it was actually something else that inspired this month’s musings.
One of my family’s favorite board games is called Castle Panic. Do you know it?
All of the players work together to save the castle from invading monsters. It’s a combination dice and card game where you use various warrior-type cards (archers, swordsman, knights, and others) to injure and eventually kill the approaching monsters who are en route from the perimeter of the board to attack the castle sitting in the middle.
If you get rid of the monsters with at least one tower of your castle still standing, you win the game.
There are lots of strategies that you can employ to rid your space of monsters.
For example, you could work to damage and kill as many monsters as you can while they are still on the outer edges, farthest away from your castle and keep them as far away as possible.
Or, the favorite strategy employed most often by my kids is to build up as many reinforcements as possible around the castle and just let the monsters come and do their worst.
The first few times we played this game, I kept trying to convince my kids that their strategy was too risky.
Why not just kill them when you have the chance? I would argue. Why waste time building up extra walls? Who would want the monsters that close?
But most of the time, their strategy works and we win.
Even so, maybe you are like me and you always try to keep the metaphorical monsters at the edges.
Who would want any of that to come close?
But many times no matter how hard we might try to slay the monsters from a distance, we just can’t always keep them on the perimeter.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patañjali warns us about kleśa – afflictions, things that cause suffering, sometimes the word is even translated as poison.
The good news is that our yoga practice gives us tools to build up our reinforcements for those times when we can’t keep the monsters away.
Yoga calls us to remember our true nature of interconnectedness.
Practice helps us develop our capacity to find calm in the moments of distress.
Like all great games – board games and life alike – the elements of luck and chance mean that we sometimes get it wrong.
We don’t always have the outcome we intend.
We get stressed and scared.
We doubt ourselves and each other.
We forget our essential nature.
The monsters overtake the castle and we lose.
But it’s not forever.
We just take a little break.
And then we regroup and set up the game to try again.
Join me this month for some classes and a workshop or two to help you build up your reinforcements and resiliency. Need a bigger break? There’s still room for you to join my Costa Rica retreat in May and there’s one spot left in my winter yoga retreat