Lately, this has been the theme throughout my life: with work, with play, and within the relationship I have with myself and others. I need to feel the difference in order to know the difference. I need to experience the change to know which path to chose. How do I truly know something unless I feel it in my body and experience it for myself?
I never really felt it as much as I feel it now. In regards to yoga, my practice has changed a lot. The way I choose which class to take, the way I choose to take care of myself through discipline: all of this evolves. Like any relationship, my practice evolves. What I need each day evolves. But how do I know the difference? How is it possible to tap into that place inside that TRULY KNOWS what I need ALL of the time? There are days when that fight of trying to find what I need feels impossible, when I just want to curl up in a ball, when there are no words, there are no sounds, no way I could possibly communicate with anyone–not even myself.
I feel lost…
So I try. I try doing what used to work for me (or what I thought worked). There are times when I go SO far into the past that it makes no sense. I tap into the younger version of me. I drink, I smoke, I decide to numb what I feel. But that doesn’t work. So I eat crap, watch tons of TV, swipe through social media, noting all the cool things other people are doing without me. I hide from the world as I wallow. But that doesn’t work either. So finally I turn off the TV, put down the phone, and sit. Some would call it meditation. I sit. I listen. I listen to what’s happening now inside me. That’s where it can get scary. See, now I am faced with dealing with MYSELF.
I feel scared…
There is no one in this world more harsh toward me than my own voice inside my head. I get bombarded with the HOWs, WHYs, SHOULDs, COULDs, and NOT ENOUGHs. Most of the time I don’t even know where that voice comes from.
I feel small…
So I write. Sometimes it’s just random thoughts, feelings, a way to tap into the witnessing part of myself. This part is a lot softer, nicer, and can see all angles, causes, and explanations–for the most part. This is the part of me that’s okay without an answer right now. This is the part of me that shows up for my clients ALL the time.
I feel okay…
As a result, I decide I need to do something. I need to take action to do what would be best for me. Take a break, get some rest, do more yoga, dance, cook, visit with friends. Whatever it is, it is something I feel ready for, something I can decide quickly, instinctively.
I feel okay with being okay…
It’s a cycle I’ve fallen into all my life. For a long time I didn’t even notice it. In fact, I was searching, seeking, longing for anything. Most of the time I got away from it by turning my focus toward other people. I’m a natural caretaker, so it was easy to always help. But then I realized I was getting to a point that really didn’t help anybody at all–especially not myself.
My daily yoga practice (all eight limbs–I’m not just talking asana–it takes more than just a physical practice, but for a lot of folks that’s where it all begins) is really what keeps me moving forward. Whether I cycle through another round of this or not, at least I’m harnessing the tools to be kinder to myself.
I’ve been able to develop the side of myself that can witness without placing blame or talking negatively.
I was posed with a question earlier today: “Do people go to yoga to get in shape? Would you guarantee them a level of fitness like a three-month gym membership?”
Granted, I wouldn’t say my opinion is in the majority, or that most yoga teachers would agree with me. But I replied, “No. When you walk into the studio, I’m not going to guarantee you anything. You are going to find what you are looking for, if that’s why you showed up. If you come for a workout, you will get it. If you come to lose weight, you will. If you come for peace, you’ll achieve that. If you show up for a physical practice and stick with the discipline rather than giving up on yourself, you will get exactly what you need.”
People are familiar with the idea of a gateway drug. A yoga practice has the possibility of being the gateway to finding yourself, of listening to your body, and learning to trust yourself. For many people, that concept is revolutionary thinking.
I believe we were all given a gift to share with the world. For some reason, we have crafted a world that has torn us away from that belief. The belief that mystery is okay and we are inherently good. That we have the tools to survive, free of all the extra stress life gives us, and that we can shake things off just as easily as the wild animals that share this world with us.
So if you find yourself jumping from one physical fad to the next, I challenge you to TRY to stick with one thing. Stick with ONE thing that makes you FEEL ALIVE. I GUARANTEE you, things will fall into place.