Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Mat

A few nights ago, one of the bendiest girls I've ever seen rolled her mat out next to mine in a yoga class. One of those effortless-looking types, who can sandwich her torso to her thighs. You know the kind.

And I know for sure that when I first started yoga, I would have spent that entire 90 minutes comparing myself to her. I'd waste my energy wondering why I wasn't that flexible, how I could ever make those forward folds look that easy, and finding ways to diminish her practice to make myself feel better.

But this time it made me smile.

She had a beautiful practice that she was clearly very dedicated to, and it was really sweet to flow next to her. 

This time, I used her practice as inspiration rather than cause to beat myself up.

But isn't it mind-boggling how much energy we waste in our lives comparing ourselves to others, or wishing things were different (in our bodies or our lives) rather than accepting how they are?

I could have wasted the whole class talking trash to myself about the fact that my body will probably never be able to move in some of the ways that girl next to me was moving. 

But the reality is, I'm working with the body I've got, and so is she. Pretending otherwise is just plain crazy.

Whether or not I will ever have a perfectly pancaked Paschimottanasana has nothing to do with my value as a human being. 

When we get lost in our monkey mind, it's so easy to get confused into believing our worth is somehow tied up with how perfect our Wheel Pose is, or how much positive feedback we get from our boss, or whether that guy we like calls us after a first date.

And doubting our own worth prompts us to look around and stack ourselves up against other people. Well, I'm not as good as her at X, but at least I'm better than her at Y...

But you can't win at the comparison game. If you want to believe you're better than someone, you have to believe you're worse than someone, too. 

So if you ever find yourself needing a reminder to help avoid going down the insanity rabbit hole, here's a little cheat sheet. 

Two shortcuts to instant suffering: 

1. Constantly compare yourself to everyone around you. 

2. Pretend you can change things that are actually out of your control.

Two antidotes to suffering:

1. Keep your eyes on your own mat.

2. Let go of things you cannot control.

Yep, pretty simple. Not always easy when put into practice, but simple wisdom nonetheless. 

The more you focus on doing what feels right to you in your life, the less energy you'll waste worrying about what other people are doing.

And the more you let go of control where you don't have it (and don't need it), the more peace and freedom you'll invite into your life.

So how about getting your eyes back here on the truth of your own inherent worthiness, and letting the rest go? 

Photo by Megan Kathleen

Melissa maher headshot

Melissa Maher is a grateful yogi and a Certified Professional Coach who takes a mindful approach to helping busy-brained women live in the moment, express their desires unapologetically, and love the bodies (and selves) they're in today. She created the soul-supportive Joy Surfers Club in her mission to help women live a life full of possibilities on their own terms. 

She has prac...READ MORE