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Monday, 30 April 2012

Taking The Risk

...This lil' thought has been on my mind a lot lately.

I recently injured my knee quite badly and have been laid up with lots of time to think. Given that my knee injury seemed to happen really quickly, without me even realizing it - it's totally taken me by surprise. Since the injury occurred while horsing around with some friends and a few soccer balls, it took me a couple weeks to even admit to myself that something might be seriously wrong. I kept thinking - this is nuts! Why is my knee the size of a grapefruit!? After one of the many hours I've spent in the last few weeks icing my knee and staring frustratingly out the window wishing I was out cycling, it dawned on me!

I'm always trying to teach people about the symbolic nature of their diseases and injuries. Every day, I talk to others about "listening to the body" and about reflecting on what shows up in the body, when and why. So often people go through months, sometimes years, of unfruitful medical diagnosis, invasive testing and medication after medication that don't seem to work until finally they find themselves in my office, or at their local yoga studio, desperate for any kind of insight. I spend a lot of time with people listening to them explain over and over - "I just don't get it. I'm a healthy person. I never used to be this way/have this problem. I'm so confused." To which I always reply - "Well, the body never lies. It's incapable of lying in fact. So lets dive a little deeper and try to uncover what might really be happening." Always, the injury or illness in question is a symbol for something that is required to be acknowledged, learned or changed in order to bring the person back into harmony and balance.

Soooo..... as I sat staring at my throbbing grapefruit-sized knee I suddenly realized exactly what I think is going on. Knees are so essential in helping us stand, balanced, on our own two feet. Something I've been feeling a bit challenged about lately. And also, healthy knees help us to move forward easily in life, taking risks and having the agility to roll with the waves as we face challenges and hold steady, standing firm in our beliefs, while creating our life in the most fulfilling way possible. Injuries to the knees are definitely humbling. And symbolic, for me, of exactly what's been happening in my life as of late....a certain stagnation in a couple of areas that I seem to be getting really good at sabotaging the healing of. I find myself a little stir I try to analyze my next steps. Literally. Being stuck here with an ice pack strapped to me knee makes me realize this is something I've been feeling for quite a while. There's been a couple important things on my mind that I've gotten really good at thinking about. But seem to have lost the courage to actually DO anything about. You see, the problem with too much analyzing is this - You stagnate!! Not enough DO-ing is simply not good. A lot of people spend their whole lives dreaming, wondering, pining... but never doing. Then wonder - why am I unhappy? What's missing from my life?

Truth is, not everything works out the way you "plan" all the time. So it's easy (for some of us)to get stuck in the details. You can "What If" until dawn, but ultimately everything involves eventually trusting that somehow things will work out just fine. If there's something stuck in your mind, and you really feel it in your heart, somehow, just jumping in, taking the risk and following your heart's desire has to be the best, the 'right', thing to do....right?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

If Something Seems Too Good To Be True...It Probably Is.

I REALLY DISLIKE when people say this.

Since when did we become so pessimistic?? Since when did it become "the norm" to expect the worst?? Wtf is the point of that??!

Why do we assume that if we fall in love, or become inspired by something/someone, or get lit up by life; that it's obviously "too good to be true." Geez. What if it's supposed to be easier, happier, more inspiring??! Since when did it become so trendy and normal to expect the worst??

I remember recently being so excited about an inspiring person I had met. When I expressed my exuberance most of my friends replied with "It won't last" or "Everyone's interesting when you first meet them" and my personal favorite - "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is." Have we really become that jaded that we condition ourselves constantly to expect a let down?! Maybe that's really the problem. Last time I checked life was what you made it.

Nothing is 'perfect'. Sure. Ok. But what if Imperfection is actually perfect in itself? What if hidden inside the tests and tribulations is a greater capacity for love and awesomeness? What if everyone and everything that we attract into our lives is actually so Divinely perfect that if only we'd relax more, and go with the flow, expecting the best from all situations - we'd find ourselves in the Land Of Bliss And Happiness.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

What to Do When You Screw Things Up.

If you're reading a blog about Yoga and Love probably it's pretty safe to say that you're interested in living an extraordinary life. Probably you are the type of person who either practices yoga in some form regularly or subscribes, even a little bit, to some of the philosophical ideals of this ancient practice.
Or - it's waaaay past your bedtime and you're still wide awake, looking for something to entertain you. Either way....

With a regular yoga practice, you are continually putting yourself in situations that challenge you. While there, you're attempting to practice cultivating calm, control, joy, even humor, amidst that challenge. If you haven't yet realized it, the yoga practice is designed to assist you with Life. It's designed to offer you the tools, in a very real and experiential way, to allow you to manage yourself, your own neurotic tendencies, and also to manage the multitude of uncomfortable occurrences, button-pressing people and ego inflating (or deflating) situations you may encounter off the mat. A teacher once told me that "People always practice yoga the same way they live their life." It was funny because he told me that when I was straining, unnecessarily, to achieve a very simple posture - eyes bulging, face red, jaw clenched. I noticed my ridiculousness and that little lesson has stayed with me 15 years later.

One of the first things I say to new students is - Be Responsible For Yourself. In class, that means decreasing (or increasing!) the intensity of postures if needed, taking breaks to rest whenever needed, hydrating adequately and not forcing yourself into situations that you aren't physically or mentally ready for. Ideally the practice, much like life, should contain 2 important elements. In Sanskrit those are (as described by the great sage Patanjali) - Sthira (meaning: steadiness, firmness) and Sukha (meaning: gentleness, lightness, softness). So - to master a sequence or a posture we try to find that balance between Steadiness and Softness.

In Life, much like in the yoga class, we may fall flat on our face as we attempt something new. That may happen a hundred times before we actually achieve the desired outcome. Sometimes, even after we've achieved what we've worked hard for, we'll sabotage it, often without even realizing it. Like when I first learned to do a handstand. I was so pumped and exhilarated! Totally blew my mind actually. But I immediately went into excuses in my mind - 'that must've been a fluke', 'did that even just happen?'. It's funny. Because my own self doubt stopped me for weeks from actually achieving the posture comfortably again. Eventually, I just started practicing handstands everywhere. No joke. I still do. Which made the experience less elusive and helped me to become a lot less rigid about achieving it successfully.

This concept of Being Responsible For Yourself extends past the yoga studio and means to be aware enough to know when you may have made a mistake, or offended someone, or was inappropriately sarcastic at the wrong time, or got angry/depressed/scared/momentarily nuts. If your words or actions contribute to you, or someone else, feeling sad, unhappy or hurt - yes, you may have possibly handled that a little differently. And if you do the work now to take full responsibility, you clear yourself from having to keep making that mistake again in the future. So how do you exercise taking full responsibility? Send an email, send flowers, send fruit (probably not all of the above - choose one). Be humble. Be concise. Extend your apology sincerely. Then - Let. It. Go. Unlike on the yoga mat when you're dealing only with yourself, the rules change a little bit out in the world when you're working with/around others. In the very wisest of words from the great author Eckhart Tolle -
"Accept—then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it...This will miraculously transform your whole life."

When working with others, regardless of the nature of the relationship, you are only ever 50% responsible for the goings-on in that interaction. Own your 50% whole heartedly. Apologize if you've made a mistake. Then allow the other 50% to make their own choices. Ultimately, in the words of another great teacher - "You can't screw this up. So stop worrying. It's just Life. You can't screw it up."
This Life is a School of Choices. We make choices. Things happen. Doors open and close, and we keep moving forward. If you don't like the way something feels/looks/is - make different choices. Let more doors open and close. And keep walking forward.