One of the most significant impacts of yoga is how it brings awareness to our patterns and habits. Asana practice offers us a wonderful opportunity to explore and refine our qualities of alignment in ways that make the practice safer, more accessible, and thereby more sustainable and potentially self-transformational. Yoga illuminates our habitual ways of moving and how they reinforce our physical posture, and while many of us are drawn to yoga for health benefits there is another layer opening to us. Through the practice we begin to see ourselves fully with an undistorted, neutral perspective. The value of this awareness can’t be overstated. It’s through this illumination that we become empowered to initiate transformation. When we say yoga can change your life, I believe this is most significantly how.
Thanks to yoga, meditation, and the support of a coach I’ve become aware of some habitual patterns of mine, one particularly that I can see is impacting every aspect of my life in some shape or form. I understand that my challenges are not necessarily universal challenges, but nonetheless I hope the process can help bring illumination for you and the challenges that you face. My biggest obstacle within myself right now is my propensity to force things, to grip and push for things as opposed to letting things flow and evolve more naturally. I’m not sure how long this has been a pattern in my life, but I can now see how it is showing up in everything, how I run our business, how I interact with the world and others, it even shows up when I am on vacation.
Ok, so having the realization of what is going on I like to call awareness. It’s step one, and it’s not an easy part of the process, but clearly is essential. It’s quite similar to someone sharing with you that you have an annoying habit of smacking your lips or clicking your pen, or when you become aware yourself of how often you use the word ‘like’ when speaking. Once you become aware of your habit, you might at first be amazed at how frequent and unconscious it’s become and potentially how annoying it may be as well.
Quick note, not all patterns are negative of course. For example, the pattern you’ve established to plan out meals for the week and prepare your food the night before would set you on course to be less stressed in the morning and likely eating much healthier than you would if you were forced to eat out. Our practice will illuminate both healthy and unhealthy habits that exist, and we can discern what is worth our time and energy. If it’s valuable and we should continue to apply energy toward it, or if it’s disrupting our life, then it’s worth pursuing an alternative pathway.
The next steps of moving from awareness to manifesting transformation are where the true beauty lies. We want our lives to be happy, balanced, and in alignment with the big picture, realizing our interconnectedness. The endeavor of putting in the time and energy to reconcile your challenges is not only self-serving, it’s Self-serving. It is both the thing that will set you free, and the thing that is bringing light to the world. When we mire down in complacency and settle into our ways regardless of how they are impacting others, we’re creating the very things that we likely complain about and judge in others. Let’s be the light and take action steps.
I suggest sharing your process with someone else that you trust. As I mentioned I am currently using a coach. I believe it’s essential to have someone there to support you, be there for you to share in your Wins as well as your setbacks is huge! Plus sharing what you’re working on with someone else can help you share the burden of accountability. When the going gets tough, it’s often the off-ramp for many of us. I strongly suggest having someone who will hold you accountable,
Take action steps daily. Action steps help set you on the right trajectory, and they don’t have to be elaborate to be effective. I’m a big fan of lists, they help me with productivity and memory. Unfortunately my mental notes periodically get lost in the shuffle, so I need to see things written down. Your phone may be an option for your lists, there are some great apps out there like Wunderlist. I personally like the physical whiteboard, which I display prominently at home. I see this list multiple times a day, so it reminds me of what priorities I’m working on. In my case, I have sit and meditate on being relaxed and letting go. You might think this is funny to have on a list, but it’s integral for our mind to understand that sitting and meditating is as important as getting groceries. Making this a top priority to start my day helps set the tone, and is creating the lasting impact towards true transformation. If your struggle is with focus you may be writing something to the affect of sit and meditate on clarity or concentrate on the breath to build mental stamina. Sticky notes on your mirror that say ‘remember to breathe’ or ‘think before you speak’ can be the reminder you need. Writing your sticky note and posting it is an action step, so is making a weekly or daily list. These are just some ideas. Remember that action steps can be simple, but write them down so they’re not lost in the ethers and disregarded.
If all is right in our world, we’re truly content and aspiring to be our best selves, then we’ve already begun this work. In realizing that we have work to do, it’s exciting.. there is opportunity for personal growth. On our path to attaining lasting happiness there is always a little refinement here and a little redefining there. We witness life as dynamic within the span a single breath, so we’re constantly evolving, too. This means we recalibrate what happiness and balance in our lives looks like as we flow with our days. I hope this process is helpful for you. I’m in it with you. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to do anything forever. For healthy transformation you just have to keep your promise to yourself one day at a time.
Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.
Tao Te Ching #9