You and I are human beings. As long as we live and breathe, we are going to experience reactions. We are not practicing yoga to eliminate reactions. We are practicing to weaken or (maybe … one day …) even eliminate the power our reactions have to dictate our responses to life.
We have been shouldering a weight of worry and stress for more than a year now and it has taken a toll on each of us. As the world begins to re-open, we are faced with even more change. In addition to understanding why we are feeling anxious, we can also commit to practices for self-care to help us downshift from the long-term anxiety and stress of the pandemic.
Many of us get stuck "fixin' to" do something. "Fixin' to" does not create results. Results come from practicing and doing. Preparing is a good thing unless you get stuck there. A yoga practice is a powerful way to train yourself to slide gracefully and courageously from the "fixin' to" stage into rich, illuminating, growth-filled action.
Too often enlightenment is deemed something for barefoot sages on mountaintops. This isn't true. Enlightenment is possible for YOU. All you need is practice so that the next time you snuggle a puppy, or walk in the falling snow, or watch your dad help your mom into the car, you will be so overwhelmed with noticing that noticing is all you are doing. These moments are enlightenment. And each one you notice is enough to inspire a lifetime of practice.
When we tack "yet" to any statement beginning with "I can't," we are embracing our potential. When we say “yet,” what we are saying is that we believe that we are always, from the moment of our birth to the moment we take our last breath, becoming the person we were created to be. It makes me smile that such a tiny word indicates our immeasurable power to change and grow. This is a state of mind or perspective that makes us almost unstoppable.
Unhappiness can be a season of growth and change, but we must engage with it. While unhappiness is uncomfortable, unexamined unhappiness is frightening. Sadness that is investigated, considered, and processed is something we can learn from. When we give our sadness the space to become a known thing, we can simply be with it, and, eventually, we can work with it.
This shared point in our history is uncomfortable. We can choose hope and optimism by seeing life (and ourselves) as a work in progress. Ignatian spirituality and yoga philosophy offer guidance in choosing hope. It's easy to start practicing on our yoga mats.
Without some type of contemplative practice, when life bites most of us will bite back. Our knee-jerk reaction is to get defensive. We allow the initial, totally natural, wave of feelings to dictate our response to whatever is upsetting us. This doesn’t make us bad people. It makes us human people. In other words, this is simply the way we are hard-wired. Regular contemplation re-wires us.
Instead of thinking in terms of typical resolutions as we welcome this new year, why not consider maintaining a way of living that you may not even realize 2020 taught you? Living with Beginner’s Mind has the power to make every day (even every experience in every day) as brand-new as January 1. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could discover and celebrate the joy, energy, and freedom of being a beginner at this thing called life all year long?