Rather than hopping on a plane or packing up the car, our main mode of travel these days is our sneakers.But my husband and I have maintained our passion for seeing as much of this world of ours as we can. By deciding to approach our little outings as “travel” or “exploration,” that is what they have become. If you, like us, will be staying closer to home this summer, remember that this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your travels. It’s a great big, beautiful world out there – even in your own backyard. Stay curious and keep your eyes open. See as much of it as you can.
What if we each approached one another with the intention to connect? With the certainty that we could find a shared love if we looked closely enough? What if we reached out across fear and differences and even physical distance to meet one other with kindness and the wish to part ways each feeling better than when we met?
“Things may never go back to normal. You may need to create a new normal. And that’s OK.” These days we’re hearing a lot about a “new normal.” Though the term is having a "moment," the idea isn't new at all. In fact, I suspect you've practiced it before. In essence, embracing a new normal is to understand that it isn’t possible or even desirable to go back (as in “let’s get back to normal”). Growth is never backwards. It is always forward, into the unknown and the new.
In uncomfortable situations we often immediately weather a powerful sense of aversion. “I don’t want this!” “This isn’t what I planned!” “This isn’t fair!” Because we’ve been practicing, however, we know that this surge of emotion (often quite justified) will pass if we pause and take a few breaths. Once we settle down and accept that what is happening is, indeed, happening, we free ourselves to get creative. We set ourselves up to do things we never thought we would do, or never even dreamed we’d be able to do. We may even find ourselves feeling grateful for the chance to stretch and grow.
There is a pivotal moment whenever you’re learning to do something when you find yourself relying on the teacher that matters the most – YOU. Sure, weeks, months and even years of study with the best teachers you can find is a tremendous asset. But in the end, what you’re learning from them is their perspectives and what works for them. Real wisdom comes from doing, from your own experience. While your teachers have walked a similar path, no one else has walked YOUR path. No one else has your own unique blend of gifts, talents and ideas. No one else has been shaped by life experiences exactly as you have been. You are, in the end, the best teacher for you.
"Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes." While making mistakes may not be your favorite thing to do, you can learn from every one of them. And the satisfaction you feel when you figure it (whatever it is) out at last is all the sweeter and more lasting because of the mistakes you make along the way.
Yoga has made me certain that the differences I discover between myself and others can be life-giving. Each time I’m struggling to find something in common with someone else is a moment that could be filled with growth and mutual learning if I can stay open and curious about the differences between us.
Self-study is part of yoga's moral foundation, yet many students feel like they don't have the time or energy to devote to more yoga. The good news is that self-study is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more we expose ourselves to new ideas, the more we will notice these ideas in all areas of our lives. Being a perpetual student enriches our life experiences on and off the mat.
It is surprisingly easy to forget that yoga postures are a means to an end. Please read that again. And again. All the jumping around we do on our yoga mats is not yoga. It’s a part of yoga. (In another essay, I’ll get into the nitty gritty of how tiny a part of the practice it is. I’ve got solid arguments that it’s somewhere between 1/7th and 3/196th.) The postures are a tool that yoga offers us to help us better experience the gift of our life. They are a tool that yoga offers us to help us live more like the people we yearn to be.