Life deals you crap sometimes. Some days you wake up and it takes a minute before you remember that your heart is broken or that your life is turned upside down, or both.
It happens to everyone but inevitably, when you are laying in bed with the whole day laid out before you and a heart that feels like broken glass, it is easy to feel alone. It is easy to feel powerless. It is really easy to not feel okay.
It's Okay Not to Feel Okay
We don't need to cover up the dark sides of ourselves, the ugly feelings or the crap that comes up when life throws us an unwelcome curve ball. Life will throw you an unexpected curve ball (again and again and again), and you may feel like crap but that doesn't have to mean feeling hopeless and alone, or like you have lost any idea of who you were yesterday.
Your life can fall apart and it is still possible to feel like you have a grasp on who you are and what you stand for. Healing is a natural process.
On a minor level, my life fell apart recently. My job changed, my heart got broken and I was forced to reevaluate my own moral guidelines on multiple levels. Life got hard for a minute.
In the past, such a crisis would have sent me spiraling down a dark hole. I would have lost sight of the things that matter to me, I would have lost sight of what I'm grateful for, I would have lost sight of the things in life that are worth living for.
"Yoga doesn't take your problems away. But yoga does change your perspective on suffering." ~ Molly Haight
This time was different. Despite the mess I was in, the drastic changes and in spite of feeling lost and adrift and betrayed, I felt grounded in my own morals and my own sense of self. I never wavered and my practice never wavered.
I felt sure of the decisions I made and the path I was on. I felt sure that everything was going to be okay. I owe this sense of clarity and healing to hard work and a commitment to self-care.
Routines are my savior. Routines keep me sane even when my life doesn't feel like it is spinning out of control. In the morning, I almost always make time to take my dog for a walk and have enough time to eat breakfast and drink a cup of tea. Even if I don't have a ton of time in the morning, I like the ritual of waking up in my own bed and having time to start my day in a easy, non-rushed way.
As often as possible, I have a similar routine at night to encourage myself to chill out after long hectic days. Making dinner for myself and giving myself time to listen to a podcast or read a book is enough to keep me feeling balanced.
And, of course, there are weekly routines, like attending my favorite teacher's class, going on a run with a friend or planning a coffee date with a good friend each week. Routines and plans are my form of self-care because when I am barely holding on to my sanity, at least I know what I can do to feel okay on a Wednesday afternoon or at the end of the day.
2. Commitment to Practice
There are a lot of yoga texts that emphasize the importance of practicing when times get rough. When you pull a hamstring, when you get bored and your physical practice plateaus, when you can barely step onto your mat without crying, when your whole body reverberates with sadness, when it's hard to get out of bed (let alone to a yoga class) or when things seem so hopeless that you wonder how or why yoga would help.
Despite my commitment to my practice, I often wonder how staying committed to my practice through the good and the bad can change things. I have had my fair share of ups and downs, but for a while yoga has been something that is easy for me to have faith in and there have been very few times when that has faltered.
Mostly because yoga has saved me so many times that I am scared of what would happen if I didn't have it. Still, when times get hard, I don't always have faith that "yoga will solve it" and it definitely isn't always easy to get on my mat.
Yoga is the force that keeps you moving through the pain and towards wholeness.~Molly Haight
Yoga doesn't take your problems away. but it does remind you of the light in times of what feels like never-ending darkness. And if none of that is a good enough reason, especially when I am going through a rough time, I never step on my mat and regret it.
3. Nature (or Your Version of 'Unplugging')
Nature is the best medicine for when you feel lost and disconnected because it forces you to get lost and to disconnect. Being in nature means connecting to the divine; it means seeing the world as bigger than your small problems; it means literally a breath of fresh in the midst of chaos.
Plan a long hike, a camping trip, go jump in the ocean, watch the sunset. Go do something outside. Get out of your head, turn off your phone and go see the world. If nature isn't your thing then try something else that allows you to step out of your life for a minute and forces you to disconnect from your technology.
Self care means giving yourself breaks from the hustle and stress of daily life. When your life feels like it is spiraling out of control, your soul needs even more breaks and quality time with nature.
Self-care shouldn't be punishment. Self care should make your soul feel nourished; go find the thing that makes you feel nourished and keep doing it, if you don't know what that is, try something new and keep trying new things until you find it.
Being okay takes work.
It takes years of dedication to a yoga practice and to the self-care work. When your life falls apart suddenly, as it is bound to do, knowing how to take care of yourself is key.
Feeling okay when everything is not okay is possible. Believe it or not, you can simultaneously feel sad and lost while feeling content with yourself and clear of your own intentions and feelings.
The key is to stay firm in your practices and to believe in moving forward. Nothing is permanent.