Very often, when we listen deeply to our heart, we want to change. In moments of sheer inspiration and ambition we may make grand decisions. “No more junk food. Ever!” or “I will commit to a daily exercise routine.” We experience moments of such excitement when we make these statements, as we clear our shelves of any processed food, filling it with only raw, organic choices. We may even purchase expensive exercise gear because we are now committed to a life of fitness. Just like that, we plan to change our ways.
While we are responding to our hearts quest for truthfulness and self-love, we may also be setting ourselves up to fail, which can take us to a place of negativity and self-judgment. I’ve fallen prey to this overnight transformation plan many times.
Sometimes Starting Slowly Is Good
When I first began practicing Bikram Yoga, I remember sitting with my butt between my heels as I watched everyone around me lie perfectly flat for fixed firm pose. With a metal rod in my spine, I remember finding it almost amusing as I thought, “Yeah right! I’ll never be able to do that.”
I immediately loved this practice because of the strong benefits I was experiencing mentally, physically, and spiritually. I began to practice more and more often. I was not in the studio every day, as I have a full time job and two children, but I became a “regular.” One Saturday morning, as I walked into the hot room, it occurred to me that not only did the instructors and studio owner know my name but it was Saturday morning and without giving it much thought… I was there. I came to think about how I went from never really engaging in any kind of physical endeavor to cultivating a very challenging and rigorous yoga practice. It certainly wasn’t in a moment of revelation and extremes from one day to the next.
Millimeters Are Miles In Class
The changes that we make from the inside out, are usually in what seem like small increments. Small changes can have a tremendous impact on our well being. My yoga instructor always tells us, “Millimeters are miles in this class.” We need not put pressure on ourselves to achieve perfection. It’s those micro-adjustments that can be truly transformative.
I can now lie flat on my back, putting my butt between my heels while creating that arch in my spine as I breathe deeply. With each class, I would backward bend just a millimeter further. One day, pushing my edge just that single millimeter meant that I was in the pose.
“I think it’s important not to overlook the joy of the journey due to an excess of goal orientation.” Lama Surya Das
Moving Forward Is What Counts
Moving forward, even micro-meters forward is what really counts. I realize that on my mat, the need for perfection, the need to prove that I am worthy and lovable slowly dissipates with every breath. On my mat, the crowd in my mind is silenced. I’m breathing in and breathing out, as I make micro-adjustments that in my practice... become miles.
It is in our little day to day choices that change really occurs. It could be as small as the intention of taking a deep breath before we speak to aid in mindfulness of speech. We can set the intention to simple look into a person’s eyes as they speak, to help us really connect and listen from our heart center. Millimeters are miles in yoga… as in life.