Living Your Yoga

This year I’ve been digging deep. I believe that if we want to fulfil our potential, if we want the chance to be as happy and content as we might, then there’s only so long we can hide from our fears and darkest corners. There’s only so long we can allow outdated belief systems to dictate our thoughts, feelings and actions.

The practice of Yoga is a beacon towards a place inside of me called ‘home’, where everything is safe and peaceful. It’s a source of physical as well emotional healing.

Over the past 7 months or so (longer if I count the 18 years of Yoga practice that have led up to this point!), I have slowly let go of some baggage that’s been holding me back. This has been no walk in the park. It’s taken work and I’ve made it a priority. I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable, experience pain, surrender to it and find acceptance in order to move towards feeling lighter and freer than I did to begin with.

As a result, I have experienced some stop gaps between emotion and reaction, a moment to be present and respond accordingly, which has made a difference to the outcomes of certain scenarios and conversations. Gratitude has occurred spontaneously, bringing about moments of bliss.

But I am not complacent…this is most definitely a process. One I am now quite sure is ongoing.

A couple of months back, while chatting with a good friend who knows every detail of what’s happened in my life this year, she tilted her head and furrowed her brow, before matter of factly pointing out that not one thing in 2015 has gone to plan. Nothing has happened the way I thought it would. She was right. I am not, however, a victim of some hideous chain of events. Plenty of great things have happened this year, just not the things I thought would happen, and there have been challenges along the way.

This has provided a rather profound backdrop to recognise and embrace the overall uncertainty of life, take a closer look inside and work through some shit (aforementioned digging).

I’d like to share with you some of my biggest learnings from this year.

I recognise ways in which I’ve been trying to micromanage my life. There have been external factors out of my control, causing me to change plans or look at things in a new light. Letting go of micromanagement is a big relief. In place of it grows trust, something I am learning to drop into. 

I have seen more clearly how limiting and debilitating fear is, having become aware of areas of my life in which I’ve been operating from a place of fear. Fear is a sneaky little bugger that hides behind many guises. It’s something I need to be on the lookout for and notice when it’s sabotaging me.

I realise that I’ve been sacrificing authenticity for approval, and this is utterly exhausting. I’m now partaking in an ongoing investigation into what living with authenticity really means, looks and feels like. It’s fascinating.

I’ve become aware of how strong the pull to conform is, and how unsettling it can feel to go against the ‘norm’. As someone who’s not a stranger to going against the grain, this came as a surprise. How this affects my life is tied into the authenticity investigation.

I’ve understood how being sucked into a maze of future ‘what ifs’ is draining and pointless. Noticing when this starts to happen and trying not to get sucked into the vortex is something I’m practicing. There is so much unadulterated joy to be found in the here and now, when I allow myself to fully occupy the present.  Even when the present brings something unpleasant, what makes it even harder is my own resistance to what I’m experiencing. The inner battle against what ‘is’ makes things way more painful. I’ve found a lot of relief in surrendering. 

The process of unravelling I’ve been through has uncovered all of this in a deeply visceral way. These realisations have not been thoughts, more a sense of deep knowing arising from inside of me.  This kind of awareness is what breeds transformation, as true change comes from the inside out.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this year my yoga practice has become much more deeply embodied. I have been learning to unravel restrictions and create new patterns physically, to discover more ease, strength, space and presence in my body. This has been mirrored in all other aspects of my life.

The monkey mind will always try to sabotage this kind of deep wisdom, it’s our nature as human beings. I therefore believe that to find the more content inner ‘home’ so many of us seek, we must be willing to actively engage in our own ongoing process and journey.

I may have had these realisations, but it takes ongoing awareness and practice in order to integrate them into a new way of ‘being’. There is no final place of perfection. We can’t tie a bow around ourselves and say ‘done’. This is something I continue to struggle with, but I comfort myself knowing how dull it would be if I was, in fact, ‘done’!

Our inner world is somewhat like a garden. We plant seeds that require care and attention if they are to grow into beautiful flowers. We can dig out the weeds, but new weeds (or the same ones!) will grow again if not kept in check. If we want our gardens to be a place we enjoy spending time, we need to keep on top of the weeding and keep nurturing the seeds. We need to get out there and do the digging, no matter how hard or tiring it is. There will be rainy days and weeds. There will be sunshine and flowers. Our job is to keep looking at our own garden. It’s easy to blindly go about day to day life getting sucked into events outside ourselves, and before we know it the garden is a mess. Or perhaps the garden is blooming but we’ve been too busy and distracted to notice the wonder that’s under our own nose! Our ‘work’ is to stay aware, so that amidst the uncontrollable in life, we are able to seek the presence and beauty within ourselves, which is always there, even if we need to do some digging.

This is my ongoing practice in daily life, as well as every time I step onto my Yoga mat or sit in meditation. To notice what is there and experience it. To move with attention through space and connect with the ground. To uncover ease and find mobility. To allow myself to be vulnerable, knowing this is synonymous with cultivating inner strength. To unlock the potential that lies within. I seek empowerment and hope to share a path towards it with others.