Although yoga is about being present, I find that New Year’s Day is a good time to reflect on the past and set an objective for the future. I dislike using the term “resolution”, but I do like to set an intention for the coming year.
This time last year, I had no idea how much my life would change. And how it changed! I now wake up in the city where I longed to be, but I had to give up teaching yoga in Boise and have not yet determined whether I’ll be able to teach in Phoenix. At the beginning of 2018, I wanted to reflect on some lessons I am learning and decided to post a meme each month. These lessons helped me keep my focus on things that really matter and I continually come back to them when I start to stray. That New Year’s goal was accomplished and here’s the collection of memes that I compiled.
Has someone ever told you they liked the blouse you are wearing and you reply, “What? This old thing?” or “I got it at a 50% sale at Walmart”? Or, have you listened to what you tell yourself: too old, should be thinner, not pretty enough, etc. I’m becoming aware that there are many ways I have put myself down in order to appear humble, but what it really does is destroys my self-esteem. Instead, I am working to not attach myself to the image others may perceive about me, good or bad. It’s a hard habit to break, but there’s inner peace if I can do it.
Whenever I fail at a task, it’s so easy for me to feel like I’m just not up to it and give up. But repeated efforts reveal lessons learned, sometimes a little bit at a time. Tenacity pays off. Now, I do not call these attempts as “fails”. I call it “practice”.
Yoga does not remove negative emotions nor does it bring happiness. But with yoga, we can acknowledge the presence of strong emotions and learn to not attach ourselves to them so we can find equanimity. And that brings peace.
I have witnessed people who have neglected their dreams in order to conform to what is expected of them or to be accepted by others. Many times, this is subconscious and, as I look back, I have been unwittingly guilty of this myself. But through the practice of yoga, I am connecting with my true self. And I am learning that it is possible to be steadfast on your path without being selfish.
Yoga asanas teach us about being equanimous: in between strength and flexibility, in between happy and sad, in between fearful and bold. In that middle space are calmness and peace. The same applies to how I treat myself. If I’m too hard on myself, I lose self-confidence. If I’m too proud of myself, my ego becomes inflated. The middle way is where I strive to be and it’s a constant balancing act.
It has taken me most of my adult life to accept and like myself. Giving up on trying to be like someone else was a hard lesson to learn, but so worthwhile. If I were someone else, I wouldn’t be me!
For me, the scary part of change is the unknown future it presents. Having faith that things will work out the way they are meant to be is a hard thing to learn. Until my faith becomes strong enough to alleviate my anxiety, I find the present mindfulness and surrender of the yoga practice to be beneficial at such times. If nothing else, just focusing on my breath for a few minutes can take away some of the stress. Take a deep breath and exhale. Everything is going to be alright.
Unless you combine a hip, groin, and shoulder opener into one! Seriously, through my yoga practice, I have learned that it is not the QUANTITY of tasks, but the QUALITY of the task done that brings a feeling of fulfillment. Focusing leads to a clear sense of concentration which helps to quiet the mind. This is hard to do when my focus is spread to too many tasks at the same time.
What real purpose does judgment serve? If I were to reflect my judgment back onto myself, what would I see? Often times, I find that it is not really other people I’m judging, but myself.
As leaves change color and fall to the ground, Autumn reminds me of the impermanence of life. And while the trees shed their leaves in a spectacular and dramatic fashion to prepare for their dormant season, I find myself thinking how wonderful it would be if we humans could celebrate change in a like manner.
Change is unnerving
Change is unavoidable
Change is inevitable
Change is necessary
How I handle change is up to me.
I have never liked competition, except when I compete with myself. When I compare myself to someone else, I either feel inferior or superior. Neither is helpful to me.
Forgiveness is needed in order to move forward and grow, but I can be my harshest critic. If I’m truly honest with myself, there are no excuses when it comes to my past mistakes, no justification, no blaming others. I can’t change the past, but if I can learn from my mistakes and not repeat them, then I realize that these mistakes served a purpose. Guilt only holds me back.
These aren’t the only lessons I am learning, but ones that have really stood out during the past year. As we move into 2019, I will test my patience and be present. The future will unfold when its time comes.