Socrates once claimed that the only thing he knew was that he "knew nothing". While I see his point, I beg to disagree. While I won't feign to know anything about you personally, I bet you know you a bit. And, if you practice yoga, I'd say my bet is a sure thing! That's the magic of yoga– Yoga invites us to see who we are. And, the more we practice yoga, yoga reminds us to love who we are! On my mat, I've come to recognize that, while I still don't know much, there are a few things I do know. I think you might know them too… :).
1) You Need To Feel It
For a long time, I thought that if I did not deal with things then they would go away or disappear. I actually believed that hurts and hopes could be reabsorbed like a rainbow after a storm. (Honestly, it was much less picturesque and more like total avoidance. :P) Then, I got tired of feeling numb and absent. Serendipitously, I had also started yoga. Yoga teaches us to stop avoiding an uneasy state of affair and start sitting in one. And, while that might not sound like progress, learning to sit vividly with what you are feeling is like a vitamin for your heart. Soon, you recognize that your love is never far away. In this way, yoga re-affirms lesson we ALL learn in Psych 101: You have to feel your feelings. Whether it is recognizing an emotion manifesting as hurt in your body or just realizing 'Hey! That actually does matter to me.', yoga teaches us that we actually DO need to feel it. We need to feel things, because our bodies feel them in spite of our mind's defense. Moreover, our feelings are not bad! We are all insanely human, mortal, vivid creatures. We owe it to ourselves to recognize that and then find our love in it.
2) If You Cannot Breathe Something Needs To Change
Now, this one is not only yoga; this one is biology! More than your thoughts and more than sensation, recognition of your breath provides the quickest feedback to your internal stasis. Survival determines that our breathing adapt to our external (and often internal) conditions. Simply, we breath shorter, quicker breaths when we believe we are in a threatening situation. This change is primarily correlated to the body's "Fight or Flight" response, a reaction that re-prioritizes your internal regulatory systems to optimize your ability to defend your survival. And, while this adaptation is an intrinsic part of our defense system, this adrenaline propagated state is meant to be temporary. Bursts of stress-hormones are fine– our bodies know how to process these limited amounts of state specific reaction. Adapting to a steady stream of stress is not okay or sustainable. Learn to watch your breath. If you it is not steady, smooth, and regulatable (and there are no bears around!) make a change.
3) You Are (Already) Okay
On your worst day (or everyday), let this be your mantra. What if we took the time to remember that there was nothing we had to fix? Yes. There is ABSOLUTELY nothing you have to 'fix' about who you are. Sure, we all have tasks and bills and dishes and 'REALLY?!!' moments, but none of these daily happenings should keep your from your own acceptance and love. As we practice more yoga, we come to realize that our joy and truth is inextricably linked with that of our world. Following, the only REAL truth can be that all is okay. Let this be your mantra.
4) The Important Things Take (More) Time
Have you ever tried to make bread from scratch? It requires time, effort, and a heck of a lot of love. Good bread is a choice. The same goes for anything special in your life. Even the things that we desire and seem to come naturally require our choice and our attention. Otherwise, like bread, they will fall flat or just become hard to digest. Sadly, we live in a fast, prescriptive reality and this can skew our perspective about gratification and plain ole' work. Remember, the best things need to marinate and develop. We do not learn to handstand overnight nor should we expect to! Similarly, we should not expect to wake up in our 'fairy-tale' without intention and effort. We must practice for the life we love. And, in the meantime, practice loving your life!