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I want you to love yoga.
Yoga has been an invaluable tool to help me feel grounded and alive. I teach yoga and meditation in a style I like to call “Ego-Free”. I encourage students to come to the mat with an open mind and open heart; come ready to play; come, willing to face your limitations and achiness; come, willing to witness all the chatter in your head and heart and develop the ability to observe it all, without judgment.
I began practicing yoga and meditation in an attempt to stretch my body and my mind. I soon began to feel this was a tool which could help me begin to feel comfortable with myself, and in control of myself. As I practiced, I discovered the biggest gift of mindful movement and meditation: That Jedi Mind Trick that helps me feel, when things are externally crazy, that I can slow time down long enough to make choices about how I want to respond, rather than feeling like a leaf, blown in the wind of someone else’s agenda. My practice has given me strength to weather extraordinarily difficult life situations.
We’ve all had pain.
We’ve all made mistakes.
We’ve all done things we’re ashamed of.
We have all been hurt and misunderstood.
We’ve all been used.
Taking a step toward changing your internal dialogue is taking responsibility for your own condition. This is not an easy task. It’s easier to blame circumstances. It’s easier to blame other people for why we feel a certain way, than it is to see we are responsible for our own emotional life. This is a radical notion, especially when faced with a hard past. But, the truth is this: how you think about yourself and your story dictates how you feel about yourself and your life. You can’t always change your circumstances. But you can change how you feel. And changing how you feel will change how you experience your life. So, outside of you, life can be chaos and bedlam. Inside, you can find peace that was previously unheard of.
Practice is the key, and this is not always easy. Life will interfere. Schedules will interfere. Our busy, avoidant mind insists we’ll practice later. There is no time like the present, right? There is no time but the present. All else is a head trip.
Most often, we live in the painful past, and the anxious, fear-filled future. We live in our minds. We feature ourselves in starring roles of our own stories lived and relived again and again, always ready to be the Saint or Victim, Hero or Villain. We replay these old stories, imagining how we should have handled things differently, or how we were wronged. We fret about the future, worried it won’t go the way we need it to go. We have no control over what has already happened. We can’t change it. We have no control over what will come – we can plan and prepare, but really, we have no control over the outcome.
It’s hard to come to the mat and sit with yourself.
When I come to meditation now, I try to come as though I’m about to visit with a friend. I try to come with the open heart I’d offer them. This wasn’t easy for me. I was trained for years and years to be wrong (with a capital W) and to feel guilty. At my core, I felt shame. So, offering myself loving kindness was very difficult. But it was among the most transformative experiences of my life.
Life is intense. I breathe through it all, and find my center, feeling my foundation, even as the wind whips at me. We have this moment. Right now. Right here. This is it. And so, I come to this moment, which is ALWAYS enough.
In this moment, I am safe.
In this moment, I am well.
In this moment, I can feel my breath move through my body.
In this moment, I feel grateful.
photo credit: Brené Brown