“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.
Why not resolve to let something go this New Year's rather than taking something on? Something that is weighing you down, making you feel cramped or holding you back from chasing your dreams? It’s very human to hold on tight to the familiar. Join me in being brave. Remember that it’s only when we relax and open our tight, fist-like grip, that we have space in our hand (or heart, or life … ) to receive the gifts that Life has to offer. I wish you a happy and perhaps lighter new year!
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.
Acceptance is a big part of living your yoga. It can be tough to pull off during challenging times because it is easily misunderstood. Acceptance is not quitting. Acceptance is not saying, “I’m doomed.” Acceptance does not make a tough moment “forever” any more than the most wonderful moments of your life have lasted forever. Acceptance is simply the willingness to work with what you’ve got. To take the next step – and then the next and the next and the next. Acceptance is choosing to roll with whatever life has brought your way with creativity and grace and the faith that life holds many more twists and turns in store for you.
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.
If a coming change has you an emotional wreck like my looming empty nest has me, it's OK. Every change and shift in life is an opportunity to practice letting go. It is by letting go that we stay open to change. It is by being open to change that we allow ourselves to change. The opposite is also true. When we resist or fight change, we eliminate the possibility for our own growth. So join me in opening your arms wide to let go and embrace all that life is bringing your way!
It is easy to forget that the yoga postures themselves are not the point of yoga. They are a means to an end. We jump around on our yoga mats NOT to get better at contorting ourselves into fantastic positions. We do it to quiet our minds. And we quiet our minds to find peace, to find comfort with stillness, to delve into the depths of our being.