I am a perfectionist which came as a welcome challenge to my friend yoga. I almost heard her laugh as I walked in the room blind to the lessons that were yet to come. I love balance challenges. I honestly believed that if I could stand firm in my balance pose than I could take that balance out into the world and it would be my safety net as I go about this thing called life. The people who were unsteady used to distract me and I felt myself feeling agitated as someone’s foot moved toward my face or when the person in front of me would fall right over. It took me some time to realize that I had to stop blaming other people and find my solid balance regardless of what was going on around me. I have learned so many things on my mat but I think this one is probably the most valuable. It has been my compass leading me to my authentic self and offering me an unshakable confidence that has completely changed my life. You are equipped with so many blessing that don’t come and go. It is only when you find your center and trust in that center that you truly start to live.
One of my favorite yoga instructors used to remind us to take what we learned on our mats out into the world. I never really understood the connection until recently.
When I first started practicing yoga, several instructors pointed out that I carried my stress in my shoulders. Over time I realized how tense I was and actively tried to relax the area throughout the day. I was really caring the weight of the world and I had to learn to put it down. I was oblivious to how tense I was but they could tell simply by looking at me. Over a year ago, I injured my rotator cuff to the point I could not lift my arm at all. I didn’t understand why it wouldn’t heal. That is when I started walking because that is the only exercise left that I was able to do. Slowly but surely, the walking served as a healing meditation. The results were amazing. I was no longer depressed and feeling happy was something that started to come easy to me. As my mind healed, my arm started to miraculously heal as well. My stress and unresolved issues were manifesting in my right shoulder. As I began to let go of the the most painful things that were holding me back, I gained more and more mobility in my arm. Sometimes we forget how important it is to take care of the mind, body and spirit. Balance is crucial and as I did my first balance pose in class today after no yoga for over a year, the pose came naturally to me. I was able to bring the balance I have purposefully brought into my life right into my pose on my mat. Who knew it was reciprocal. I think I finally get it now and I am grateful for the lessons both on and off my mat. Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your thoughts and what is going on in your body. You can heal with patience and purpose.
I did a yoga retreat about a year ago and one of the the things we focused on was called bullshit stories. These are the stories we tell ourselves to feed our own narrative or sometimes to make us feel more powerful or even victimized. It’s a question we all need to ask ourselves and I can assure you it’s not an easy question to answer. It takes a ton of courage and a tremendous amount of soul searching to get real enough with yourself to be completely honest. I have never in my 40+ years seen such a twisting and misinterpretation of events and words as I do today. Bullshit stories are all around us. It is the new fad, the in thing, the new craze. I won’t be a part of them. Honesty is so important to me and to see so much dishonesty is disenchanting at best. I don’t want to be sucked into other people’s drama and when I don’t like the game being played, I simply take myself out of it. I won’t play. I will not be a fuse for anger, contempt, superiority or hate of any kind. It’s all one and the same and there’s not a good enough reason in the world to justify it any other way. The problem isn’t so much leadership but rather the followers. It’s the little people, the everyday interactions, the misconceptions being spread at a record pace. It amazes me that people have such difficulty weighing all the facts and discerning the truth from there. I think part of the problem stems from following people, friends and media that are completely like minded. I think we miss the mark and it seriously damages our society as a whole. The hate groups are alive and well in our country but there are many more than we see reported in the news. People are driven by hate, consumed by it. But yet they think it only resides in everyone else. There is no excuse. No justification.The truth is as simple as this, we only see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear. That helps us build the strongest bullshit story we could possibly dream up and we even start to believe it too. What is your BS story? What purpose does it bring into your life?
Today I woke up fully understanding how much of what we do can be a catalyst of stress for another human being. Sometimes it is intentional and other times, like in this example, it is not.
I have this intense need and desire for calm. I moved out to the country because part of feeling calm requires a certain level of quiet for me. I don’t like noise and several noises cause me anxiety. Last night it was the wind. Oklahoma wind is not ordinary. Winds here cause amazing damage added to the fact that my house is on tornado alley, contribute to the anxiety that stirs inside of me. The neighbors are building a garage and every morning I wake up to hours of banging. Bang, bang, bang added to the wind already affects me. I think part of the reason I love yoga so much is because it is the only place I can seem to find that offers the level of calm and quiet I crave.
This is just a reminder that what we do has an effect. It travels out like a wave and causes some type of reaction in other people. Remember to stay aware. Remember our words and actions and posts reach far beyond what we ever imagine. As for me, I will be in search of some quiet today, at least until this storm inside of me quiets down so I can tolerate the one outside.
“Don’t make any decisions, just sit quietly with your feelings.”
That was our assignment in yoga today. I didn’t think much about it at the time but the words brought about a sense of relief. After class, the words reverberated in my mind. How often are we comfortable or patient enough to just sit with our feelings? How often are we willing to let them come without the need to jump to their defense? We the people love to react. As soon as we feel slightly uncomfortable, we immediately jump into action. Perhaps we need some practice in accepting our feelings until we learn to find some comfort in the uncomfortable, peace in the panic and confidence in the confusion. What do you think?
Surrender and soften. That was the underlying theme in yoga today. I couldn’t help but think how opposite that is of what is going on in the world outside of that yoga door. Maybe that is why I crave it so much. Perhaps that is why I am pulled to be there everyday. Maybe that is the world I fit into, the one that feels right and safe with my soul. Yes, surrender and soften. We could all use more of that.
It was just an ordinary day as I walked through the front door of the yoga studio. From the first moment I spent time in that sacred space, I knew it was special. To be honest, I’ve tried yoga at other places. It’s never been quite the same. What is it about that place that makes me feel so at peace, so at home? Sometimes I forget who I am. My true essence is buried someplace underneath the words people use to describe me. Why did I start to believe them? I am not those words. Maybe to some degree they fit my behavior but I am so much more. More than they see, more than I show. I do it too and I never realized how destructive it was until today. We use adjectives to describe people. We don’t think twice to label them or share our opinion of who we think they are. I realized how much damage some of my own words must have caused, especially for some of the people I love the most. I am supposed to love them and protect them but somewhere along the way I’ve forgotten what my real purpose is in their lives. It’s not to judge or define them. It is to love and accept them exactly the way they are. Why is that so difficult? With each tick of the clock I feel more ashamed. Try as I may, I can’t shake this sadness that overwhelms me. Why do I have this need to define people, label them, assign names to them? You are a disgrace. You are lazy. You are selfish. You are annoying. Oh my God! As I type the words my stomach hurts. I am no better than the people I call out. Why is it not okay for them but fine for me?
Then I got it today, why that studio feels so much like home. There are baskets by the door. Everyone undresses and leaves their shoes and socks and sweatshirts in them. We quietly peel off the labels and place them neatly in the drawers. We leave behind judgement and pride next to our keys. We are all vulnerable there. We are brave. We leave everything outside as we step into that dark room and close the door behind us. I am free. I can breath and the world is lifted off my shoulders. I smile as I lie down on my back. I think to myself, I am so happy to be here today. And then it dawns on me. No one is there to judge or define me and I am not there to do it either. For the next 60 minutes, I feel loved and important and worthy. I feel the weight of my body on my mat grounded into this precious earth. I feel the enormous power of my heart as I feel it beat inside of me. I am love. I am here to love. I have found myself again. This is me peeking out from behind the walls I put up to protect myself. This is me safe from the words people use to define me. I am safe here in my own body, connected to my soul and all I feel is love…
Because I am love.
Sometimes I just forget…
And I’m here to remind you that you are that same love too.