“Yoga is a journey from dependence to independence.” Yoga Sutra 2.25
I know that I am ultimately responsible for my actions and reactions. With this knowledge, I’ve certainly grown more aware of how I live each moment as my life has progressed, but I’m amazed at how I keep waking up to little negative, pestering habits that are no longer serving me and making my life infinitely more difficult. So, I am openly sharing some of my biggest violations and revelations that have helped me along the path of yoga.
1. Not being able to laugh at myself
I used to fluctuate between being totally silly and taking myself WAY too seriously all in the same day. I remember in my 20’s getting so upset over events of the past or worrying about the future that I would literally lose entire days to the fluctuations that were going on in my mind. And I constantly worried about my weight and appearance. Meditation and yoga (all limbs) have given me tremendous perspective on the physical part of my appearance. I know if I put good stuff in, then more good stuff appears physically (more on this in #2!), but without a heavy attachment to looking a certain way. I have done this by sticking to a spiritual regimen of eating organic, vegan food, getting plenty of outdoor activity, adequate asana practice, sleep, and stopping negative thoughts before they take over. Now, I’m only about 75% cured of my mental fluctuations, but I certainly have the ability to reign them in… and most importantly, laugh at myself.
2. Having a negative body image
This has been one of my biggest challenges to overcome. I used to look in the mirror and see someone who was 10, perhaps even 20 pounds heavier than me. It was a way for me to control what was out of control for me as a child. This negative pattern of thinking trickled into adulthood. But, really — aside from gaining and losing the freshman 15 in college, I’ve always been the same weight. Amazing how little clarity I had about the fact that I’ve really always been at a healthy weight. I have a very different view of my body now. I see it as the home or vessel I inhabit while I’m in this plane of existence. I treat it with utmost respect by consuming a mostly vegan and organic diet. I do balance this out with the occasional red wine or beer splurge and I love, love, love dark chocolate. Bottom line is, I have consciously chosen to not stress out about food since I keep nothing but healthy stuff in stock! My time is too precious to go on a diet, count calories or step on a scale every day.
3. Being ridiculously unorganized
The vata in me always has some unfinished project going. You should see the disarray in the cabinet beneath my computer desk. Every time it opens, things fall out and I likely have mail in there from two months ago. Sigh… I am a work in progress. On the flip side, there are times when I really have it all together and love the way that feels. I am attempting to simply make peace with the fact that I can be pretty scattered at times and go from there.
4. Becoming caught up in gossip
I don’t get this one, because I’ve been the subject of gossip and swore I’d never take part in it because I know how much it stings to find out someone’s been chattering behind your back. However, the human in me has succumbed to being a little gossipy at times. I can, however, remember each and every time I spoke in a negative way about someone and I can honestly say I felt it in my bones. Anytime I’ve taken part in being gossipy, I get a sick and head-aching feeling. A sign that (pardon the cliché) if you can’t say something nice you really shouldn’t say anything.
5. Losing my temper
The pitta in me does lose it from time to time. Usually my family gets the brunt of this. I get frustrated when I’m out of balance and I do come unglued occasionally. When this happens, I try to remember how important it is to re-frame why I’m upset in the first place. And, I feel so fortunate to have the tool of breath awareness to turn to when my pitta jets need some cooling. When I’m angered, I do my best to pause BEFORE I react . I first ask myself the question; am I harming myself or someone else with my words or actions even in the smallest of ways? And, I often ponder this quote by author Grenville Kleiser before choosing to react negatively The habit of being uniformly considerate toward others will bring increased happiness to you. So being happy = being kind.
6. Wishing I could master a certain pose
My rational mind knows I won’t get as much out of the physical practice of yoga if I’m going for achievement of postures. However, I’ve been guilty of putting myself on deadline for tackling poses that I find particularly challenging. I do, and will continue to have a few that I work on for a few weeks at a time during my home practice. However, I can honestly say that when I participating in the discipline of physical yoga simply for the sake of the practice — the asanas become more enjoyable, beneficial and even more effortless. Ah, once again, yoga as a lovely metaphor for life! If only I could always live my life with this sense of detachment… I’m getting there.
In Sri Swami Satchidananda’s translation of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali he says that once the junction created by ignorance is removed, the Seer rests in his own true nature. He is referring to our true nature which is that of freedom and liberation. So once we remove our deep habits (samskaras), Patanjali says we should be able to guide others to do the same. Satchidananda writes when a strong person crosses a turbulent river, he or she will not walk away after crossing but will stand on the bank and pull everyone else.