You can tell a great deal about a person (and yourself) by how they react to falling out of a balance pose. I have seen clients grow focused and fierce as they struggle to maintain their footing. I have witnessed students simply stop, give up, and stand waiting for the next instruction. I have watched others become angry, brows furrowed at the grave injustice leveled upon them by me and/or their uncooperative bodies. And in my own practice I have experienced all these reactions - as well as number of combinations and variations thereof.
Perhaps the most beautiful part of yoga to me are these little glimpses we receive into our patterns of behavior. Because chances are the way you respond to "failure" on the mat is very similar to the way you deal with setbacks and shortcomings in the rest of your daily life.
We all fall down. Every day. In ways both big and small. We make a mistake during a major presentation. We drop the kids off at school on a chilly day and realize hours later their gloves are still in the backseat. We forget a loved one's birthday. We hurt our spouse's feelings.
We all make mistakes - but they needn't define us. We may not be immediately able to regain the trust of our colleagues or take back harsh words, but these failures present an opportunity for us to learn, grow, and try again.
Instead of staying down next time you fall, can you stand back up? Can you turn a failure into a growth opportunity?
The following quote arrived in my inbox on January 1, and I knew immediately I needed to share it with you. As I sat down to do so, I realized it needs no further explanation - no "real life" example, no anecdotal support. So I offer it here unvarnished for you to read, ponder, and embrace. I hope it resonates for you as it does for me:
I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.
So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.
- Neil Gaiman
No matter how hard you try to be mindful and fully present, the truth is life moves fast... In the midst of the chaos and constant opportunities for distraction and diversion - and despite our best intentions, even the sweetest moments can disappear from our minds and hearts without a trace.
Many turn to journaling or various social media outlets to archive special events and memories, but what about those blissful flashes that happen on the fly? As my pastor likes to say, the shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory, but the thought of sitting down to capture all the details can seem like more work (and time!) than we have at hand.
Enter the moment jar. I was introduced to this simple concept by the lovely Pleasance Chyna at Lil Omm. She says:
Once every few days, I just jot down something I'm grateful for, something I love about our life, my kids, my day and throw it in. At the end of the year, I look them over and reflect back. It's fun to do this with the kids OR just for your self to savor.
I love this idea for its simplicity and immediacy. How often do we experience something worth preserving and tell ourselves, "I'll write this down when I get home/to the office/have time," only to have it slip through our porous memories before we have the chance? What if we, instead, just scribbled it down on whatever surface was available? And instead of worrying about weaving it into our carefully curated journal/instagram/facebook album, we could simply throw it in a jar?
I am excited to incorporate this practice into my own life and looking forward to revisiting a collection of sweet moments at the end of the year (or whenever I need a little lift along the way). If you find yourself with a similar craving for a simple way to preserve special memories before they disappear, give it a try. Save - and savor - your precious moments.
Near the end of last year, I attended a holiday gathering with many old friends and former colleagues. It was a joy to connect with those I hadn't seen for years and laugh about fond memories and shared experiences.
In the course of catching up, many people asked whether I was still enjoying life as a yoginimama. I shared various updates and talked about some of the highs and lows of this adventure. I was surprised when multiple people followed up by asking some form of the same question: Is it enough?
Despite the fact there had been no malice behind the questions, my first instinct was to go on the defensive. I wanted to talk about the organization I am excited about diving into, enumerate the laundry list of projects in the works, share my latest extracurricular activities, and wax poetic the incredible experiences I have been able to enjoy in this season of life. But something stopped me.
As I reflected, I realized the question needed no more than a simple answer: Yes. It is enough.
It is true that my life looks very different than it did four years ago. I have traded daily interactions with Members of Congress for early mornings spent helping clients improve balance and flexibility on their yoga mats and in their daily lives. I recite Dr. Seuss rather than write speeches about the policies that shape our nation. But I feel no less fulfilled. And I am learning how to let that be okay.
In the year to come, I invite you to join me in exploring what it means to embrace this season of life and learn the lessons it offers. Because wherever we find ourselves - whatever vocations, activities, and adventures we pursue - there are endless opportunities to grow. Together we will discover how to open our hearts and minds to whatever comes our way. Ready or not, here we go...
A new year brings new opportunities. A chance to start fresh. After end-of-year reflection, we (hopefully) have recognized habits and patterns that are not serving us well, and have given thought to changes - big and small - that can help us live a more full and fulfilling life.
Before we can make changes, however, we often need to create space. Eliminate practices and routines that do not serve us well. Make room for the people and things that truly nourish us. Do less so we can experience more.
This idea really resonates with me in this season. As I shared in last month's newsletter, I am making a few changes in my own life and work. Among them is pressing the "pause" button on these bi-weekly blog posts. The blog won't disappear, and I hope to continue to offer little doses of encouragement, reflections on mindfulness, and stories from inspiring people from time to time, but the rhythm will shift to accomodate some new engagements in the new year. (If you want to ensure you don't miss anything, I encorage you to sign up for the monthly New Beginnings newsletter.)
Perhaps you have already taken steps toward living a more simple life in 2017, but if not, I encourage you to consider where and how you can scale back. What can you subtract that will ultimately add value to your life? What can you give a rest?