Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Secret Hero Within Us

Bad days. We all have them, we wake up on the wrong side of the bed in the morning and our whole entire day just seems off. It's like the domino effect, one little thing after the other, making our day feel all the more miserable. Most of the time these days start from the very moment we open our eyes, our alarm didn't go off, the cat puked all over the floor, we're out of toilet paper, we're exhausted, and all we can think about is our daunting to-do list.

I used to constantly have these days. I was living my life day-to-day just going through the motions, patiently waiting for my future filled with happiness. Every day I had something new to complain about; whether it be my job that I hated, that jerk that cut me off, the money I didn't have, how hungover I was or all that weight I had gained. I was the queen of complaining, and I despised myself for it. I knew I was a kind person, I knew I was meant for more than this. I had a kind heart but I didn't know how to use it. I could feel the people around me back off the moment I started talking, but I couldn't help it. Didn't they understand how horrible my day was? Why didn't anybody care? Can't they see that I'm struggling?

The truth is, we all struggle. Every single person you meet has dealt with something that has brought them anguish. Every single person you meet has faked a smile to avoid a heartbreaking conversation. We all are fighting our own battles and facing our own wars. We've all been there. What I came to realize after years of negativity and sadness, was that my life wasn't the problem. My life was completely normal. The real problem, was ME. 

Before I had this "revelation" (if that's what you want to call it) I blamed the past for all my issues. I was angry at the world and I had no idea how to let that go. I was angry with myself for the mistakes I had made, I was confused with who I was and what I wanted in life. I hid behind my insecurities, let addiction consume me and continued to blame everybody but myself. I always told myself that things will get better once I find a new job, once I move away, once I "figure out my life." I started to accept that I was the cause of all my problems, that instead of hoping for the future I needed to accept the now. I decided that I wasn't going to let poisonous thoughts smother me anymore, and that if I really wanted help I had to search deep within myself.

To be completely honest, it was agonizing. I had to accept that all of my problems stemmed from my bad habits, from my own thoughts, from myself. I had nobody else to blame anymore. I had to face all of my fears that I hid from for so many years, and I actually had to feel everything that came into my heart. Then all of a sudden, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Life wasn't all sadness, anger or frustration. There was a part of me that wanted to smile, that wanted to appreciate sunsets and so badly wanted to love her life. All I had to do, was recognize that I was thankful for waking up that day rather than be angry that my alarm didn't go off. The secret hero within me decided to take charge, and I thank her forever and always.

Life isn't all sunshine and rainbows and we all face difficulties in our everyday lives. We don't have control of that, and we never will. It can be hard, really REALLY hard. We are not perfect, and everybody is entitled to feel angry or frustrated by things that happen to us and our loved ones. But there is a big difference between a bad day and a bad life. That difference is gratitude. What I have accepted is that life was never meant to be perfect. What I have embraced, is that nobody can save you unless you learn to save yourself. The power of positivity is real, and if we change the way we think, we can change the way we live.

"What you think, you become."

Monday, October 26, 2015

The journey of the practice.

Since I started practicing yoga, my perspective has changed in so many ways. One thing I have noticed, is how every time I bring a friend that is a "first time yogi" to class, they tell me how much they loved it and how great they feel. But the conversation always ends with "I just can't wait until I get better at it."

To be fair, that is just human nature. We all have this little part of ourselves that is always competing, always trying to be better, always striving for perfection. Some of us feel this more than others, but we all have a small desire for that feeling of being the best. The society we live in makes this harder to subside, we are surrounded by ads of picture perfect people, the next "upgrade" in all of our electronics, #transformationtuesdays, and pictures of beautiful people perfecting the headstand. When I first started doing yoga I felt the same way. I could barely touch my toes, I was about 30 pounds overweight and I was (and still am) extremely uncoordinated. I wanted to be one of those toned up yogis, with a great figure and an awesome handstand. I felt somewhat awkward and uncomfortable when I first started out (because I had no idea what I was doing), but how I felt afterward is what always brought me back. I said to myself that I couldn't wait until I got better, I couldn't wait until I could do all the "cool" poses. 

Somewhere along my yoga journey, something clicked in me that being able to do the "cool" poses wasn't what mattered. It wasn't all about doing those picture perfect headstands, to be as flexible as a rubber band or to be the most toned person in the room. What really mattered, was how yoga made me feel. Did I get better at certain poses? Yes. Can I do poses now that I couldn't do before? You betcha. Did yoga make me a stronger, more flexible, and physically healthier person? Of course. But what I found mattered the most was what yoga did for my mind. I learned that even if I couldn't balance in tree pose, if I couldn't hold myself in crow, if I had trouble getting into half a pigeon or I opted for child's pose instead of wheel, all of that didn't matter. Because when I left that practice I still had a heart filled with gratitude, love radiating through my skin and a light weight feeling on my body that nothing else could bring. I still felt as though I was centered and grounded, but free and flying all at the same time.

I had a teacher once tell me, "yoga is all about the journey, not the destination." As cliche as that may sound, it is so. entirely. true. Through the practice of yoga, we learn to appreciate what our bodies can do for us now and not worry about what we wish they could do. We learn that our bodies are not machines, that we don't have a "latest upgrade" button like all of our cellphones and laptops, so we must learn to be patient and kind to ourselves. We learn to live in the now rather than waiting for the future. We learn that we aren't perfect and that is beautiful

Yoga isn't about competing with the person to the left, the person to the right, or even ourselves. What we learn through the journey of the practice, is to love and accept ourselves for who we are, and appreciate every single moment.