In my last post, I shared my thoughts with you on making realistic, compassionate commitments to your Self: to your health, to your way of life, to your overall wellbeing. In essence, I was talking about finding balance – on your mat, and off it. I’d like to continue the conversation on balance.
I am very grateful for the life I have chosen. I used to stress about all the travel and the demands of teaching workshops every weekend. I felt guilty about spending so much time away from home, missing time with my family and local friends. People often asked me how was I planning to sustain this work with so much time away from home and all of the unpredictable realities of a demanding traveling career. At times, doubts and fears of failure, or even success, would creep into my mind. Sometimes this would turn into a sort of self-torture. Until I realized something – this is the life I asked for and co-created. I am very privileged to be able to travel the world, practice yoga in breathtaking locations, and share space with incredible people. I changed my attitude about this extraordinary life I am living, and everything about it, even the stressful stuff, became manageable. Whatever happens, when things unexpectedly change, I can view them in a negative or in a positive light. While I don’t have control over all of these situations, I always have control over my responses to them.
I have learned to be patient with myself while making changes that have led me to a more easeful, balanced version of my life. We live in an era of ever-increasing instant gratification. When someone else’s success inspires us, or a life-changing event rips us to the core, or we realize we need to take charge of our health, we may set out with big ideas of radical changes all at once. Lasting changes don’t work that way. My commitment to healthy eating and doing regular balanced exercise took practice and small steps of change. Letting go of rigidity, being grateful, even being patient with myself – gradually became a natural part of my daily life. Learning how to meditate, to simply sit and breathe, balanced out my natural urge to be busy and productive all the time. As it turns out, some of my best meditation opportunities happen on airplanes, which is fortunate as I spend anywhere between 4 and 12 hours per week sitting still en route to somewhere else.
If you are making changes to habits you’ve had all or most of your life, retraining your mind to a new outlook will take time. Be kind to yourself when you make a misstep. It will happen. Let it. Even go so far as to prepare for the missteps, and when they occur simply forgive yourself and then move on. Dust yourself off and keep going. One would never scold a child because he/she is not learning how to crawl or walk fast enough. Love yourself and others in the same patient way as you would love a child learning a new skill.
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – “The Teaching of Buddha,” by the Bukkyõ Dendõ Kyõkai
Yoga asana is a part of my life, it is a joy for me to practice and teach. But as we all know, yoga is much more than our time on the mat. Yoga is also about cultivating awareness, honesty, devotion and appreciation. It is about oneness with myself and with others. It is my joy to commit to this path again and again, each day, in every way possible, to the best of my ability.