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When I was little, I believed things became constant and that all of the whirlwind changes of growing up stilled once you became an adult. I thought life would have less surprises, that relationships stayed the same, that when you chose a way to make a living you stuck with that choice, that adulthood would have the answers and would be easier. What a shock to discover that life is constant in its ability to continue to change every year, every day and every moment. Once I came to accept that life is about impermanence and is ever in flux and changing, it did, in fact, get easier.
Have you accepted life’s perpetual changes or do you still hold hope for the elements to settle?
Once I fully owned that life would consist of ups and downs, have its happy moments along with stressful and that relationships change, I was able to detach myself and more easily “go with the flow” of the moment. If all things change, than banking on something or attaching myself to an idea, person or thing was pointless. Instead it requires a finer awareness of what matters which is this very moment.
Accepting impermanence and detachment creates an inner peace that does become a new constant. I find that when I begin to get into my head with worry or fear or self doubt that I have fallen out of the moment and attached myself to an idea of what life should be. Realizing that this too will change brings me back to now.
One of the hardest things for me to do is to sit in that awful place of discomfort. Life is chock full of these moments. I get to practice being in this place more times than I’d like. I think I am getting better at it but then all of a sudden I’m back in deep and it seems so overwhelming. For me these moments are usually found in times of confrontation, uncertainty or conflict. I know now to take time to concentrate on my breath. I try not to get to caught up with thoughts as those just seem a method that my brain uses to make sense out of the situation and may just be stories created that hold no real truth. So what do you do if you can’t think your way out? Breathe. Concentrating on the moment at hand through breath is the only truth when things are not clear. It is so simple. Breath can dissipate these uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, anger and stress. Inhale 1. Exhale 2. Inhale 1. Exhale 2. It is as easy as… taking a breath.
Do one thing a day that scares you.
I think about these words of wisdom taken from a Lululemon advertisement often. As a yoga teacher for kids, I see how young children approach new ideas and challenges. They tend to go for it without thinking of being judged or making mistakes or the need to think things through. You show kids an inversion and they are flying in the air without a doubt to hold them back.
As we get older the fear of what people think begins to take hold. Usually this begins around 5th grade and accelerates through middle school. We place self-judgment before action and it stifles growth and living authentically.
Growth occurs in times of discomfort. Allow yourself to stretch into that discomfort and see how you can begin to set yourself free. Learn something new. Be vulnerable in relationships. Tap into your creativity. Push yourself physically. There are many ways that you can spread your wings and take flight in your own life.
When we take a step into risk, whether we succeed or fail, we learn more about who we really are. Jump into risk and find your true self. Take a risk and live life big.
Being both a yogi and runner has been enlightening this last year. As I recovered from a six month-long achilles injury, I increased my yoga practice. As I increased my yoga practice, I corrected a lot of misalignment and weakness in my feet and legs caused by running and increased my hip and hamstring flexibility tremendously. As my flexibility increased, my injury began to heal. Finally I was able to run again pain and shoe insert free!
But something had changed inside me besides my healed achilles tendon.
In the six months of waiting desperately to run, I began to really listen to my body. I realized that for years my body had been telling me things which I refused to hear. The constant pain I lived in from compacting my muscles from running long distances accentuated by stretching these tight muscles with yoga seemed normal. A runner is conditioned to push through pain and disassociate the messages our brain is telling us to run longer or faster because the body will.
The practice of yoga is called a practice because everyday we come to the mat and listen to what our body needs. Yoga helps us become mindful of what our mind and body is saying. We learn to turn off our mind of needless thoughts not as a way to push our body past a point of pain. Yoga helps us be comfortable in our bodies and minds.
I have started running again on trails and for short distances. I walk up hills sometimes instead of charging up them as if my life depends upon it and I really listen to my legs and bring awareness to my stride. I have woken up to what a body free of pain feels like and I can’t go back to punishing my body in the name of a PR. Marathons are still in my dreams but I have woken up and will approach my running with a new mindfulness and gratefulness. I have woken up and I have no choice but to listen.
On the way to teach yoga, I was thinking about the coming year 2012 and how we are bombarded with so many messages about making New Year’s resolutions in the media. I too have a resolution to add to your list. In fact, put this resolution right at the top.
I will find complete self-acceptance in 2012.
Now erase all resolutions that follow. Ah. Doesn’t that feel like freedom!
I completed my Baron Baptiste teacher training this past summer. Baron Baptiste strives to create teachers that come from a true and authentic place. To accomplish this we worked on ridding ourselves of the garbage that we carry—the stories that we believe about being unworthy, unlovable and just not enough. We worked to get to the place where we had 100% self-acceptance. We had to stand in front of 150 other teachers in training and declare that we were 10s. We had to do this with certainty and belief. It was hard.
Our society is accustomed to thinking that we will be a 10 if we lose those last 5 pounds, get that better job, nicer house, faster car or fill in the blank. We need to erase the wrinkles on our aging faces and tighten our sagging bottoms and have washboard abs to be our best.
But it is just not true.
We are all 10s—right here and right now. You do not have to do a single thing but arrive and approach everything that you do as the 10 that you are.
Try on the resolution of self-acceptance. See what the possibilities of believing yourself a 10 bring this 2012. Treat everyday this year as the special gift that it is and have a very Happy New Year.