When a very close friend reacted with near speechlessness to my menu-, schedule- and list-free state one week before hosting Thanksgiving, I calmly said to him, “Good enough is going to have to be good enough." Not only was good enough good enough, but believing it was kept me as calm and centered over the holiday as the most perfectly-planned plan.
Struggle makes you a better person. Trust me. I speak from lots and lots of experience here. Injury. Illness. Imbalance. Pure inability. All have had more to teach me on my yoga mat than any teacher I’ve ever had (and I’ve had some really, really good ones). While I’m still waiting to be enlightened enough to actually feel thankful while in the grips of my pain, fear or frustration, because of my yoga practice, I am aware that I will (eventually) feel grateful for each of my struggles. This awareness makes me patient. It makes me persistent. It allows me to accept my inability – for now. It's not surprising that I am glimpsing this same strength and resilience in myself off my mat as well.
I did not have great experiences with philosophy classes in my years of higher education. Somehow, not a single one of my professors had ever been able to make me see the real-world applications of all these things that other people, ages ago, had thought about. When I started to study yoga philosophy, I understood immediately that it is less about ideas and more about living. From the very beginning, it was clear to me that yoga philosophy was something I wanted to think about. More importantly, it was something I wanted to do – all of the time.
Is it OK to groan at yet “another flippin’ growth opportunity?” Heck, yes. They can hurt! But once you’re done grumbling, do yourself the favor of stretching. If we don’t consistently push at the edges of our comfort zones, we’re not going to grow. In fact, we risk becoming inflexible and stagnant.
One day, sitting in my driveway while the kids played with sidewalk chalk (which was infuriating because two of them were throwing it over the fence rather than drawing with it), I had an epiphany. I was being called to live my yoga right here, right now. This crazy, messy life was my metaphorical mat. My real-life challenging postures were these lovely little people who were simultaneously driving me batty and overwhelming me with love. Because of my practice with yoga philosophy, I understood that this life (my life!) is a gift. In that instant, something inside of me softened and shifted. I stopped fighting. I stopped looking for an exit. I opened myself fully to my life and received it as the gift it is.
It might seem obvious that bringing a dream to life can take hard work and careful planning. Be careful! Your plans and work ethic can easily kill a dream. Creating a dream come true requires patience in and contentment with the process that might make no sense, a willingness to let your dream go its own way at times, and the ability to maintain your dual roles as both dreamer and a creator.
Do the good thing. Say the kind words. Even when you’re having a bad day. You might never know how your generosity impacts others. But, as soon as you choose to make someone else’s day a great one, you will realize that your day just got a little better, too.
Ready. Set. GO! Does September Feel Like You’re on the Starting Line of a Race You aren’t Ready For?
Does September leave you feeling like you're at the starting line of a race you're not quite ready for? It is possible to bring some of summer's slower, quieter rhythms into the mad dash of this busy time of year.
We all find ourselves in situations (sometimes over and over again) where our reactions are way out of proportion with reality. As crazy as it might seem, these reactions are a choice. Mindfulness practices such as yoga help us learn to choose our responses in even the most stressful situations. This ability frees us from the power that old habits and triggers have over us.