When dreams you’ve had for a long time finally come true… what then?
So, you’ve found the guy or the gal. You’ve begun working for yourself. You got accepted into the program you applied for. Or you’ve realized your passion/purpose and are eager to live it.
Most of us encourage others to live their dreams, but where’s the guidebook after we start to pursue ours?
“One is never afraid of the unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end.” —Jiddu Krishnamurti (tweet it!)
The known is a place of certainty and comfort, even if at times it’s miserable and unbearable. In the known you understand what’s expected. Yet it’s a place of entrapment because, without your knowledge, up go the barriers against change. As Jiddu taught, the fear of the unknown isn’t what we should be afraid of.
We fight to keep things as they are not because we don’t have aspirations of something better, but because what’s happening now is the only reality we’re living.
Change is hard, even when it’s good.
Change means saying goodbye and hello, saying yes and saying no. It’s what keeps the dartboard of your meditating mind so active, watching thoughts fly until one of them impossibly hits bullseye. Center. Clarity.
This is the one thought, among them all, that realizes someone else is doing the thinking. This one thought plants the seed for you to get out of your own way. The dream is now! it shouts. Live it!
And you answer, meekly, How?
Opening to the unknown
I used to play piano for about nine years, and as I became more advanced I taught theory to grade school kids at my teacher’s studio, eventually taking them on as students.
There was one student, I’ll call her Sally, who practiced so diligently and technically, yet couldn’t acquire softness and emotion in her music. She pounced the keyboard. Her arms were stiff because her concentration was stiff because she didn’t want to let me or anyone down.
Sally advanced quickly, though. She may not have been an expressive piano player, but she was methodical and thorough. She put in the time. It didn’t matter that her music was always the same volume. It mattered that she kept playing.
Sally was my favorite. She taught me that as much as I tried, I couldn’t teach someone else how to “feel.”
What I could have done, and now do all the time as a yoga instructor, was teach her how to loosen her body. How to get out of the stiffness in her mind and limbs with breathwork, and let that be the place from which her music plays.
Your breath knows
Pranayama is the unsung gatekeeper of how we navigate change. If yoga is the “What?”, pranayama is the “How?
I hate to sound trite, because breathing won’t solve all your woes and it won’t make your dream show up in the first place. But if you’re looking for answers about how to navigate change, let the breath be your informant.
At the most simplistic: Shallow breathing fans anxiety and uncertainty; deep, full belly breathing fans relaxation and confidence.
When you loosen your physical state with deep breath, your mental state loosens. Your grip on change relaxes. You don’t resist the known coming to an end. When it’s time to step into your dream — the thing you’ve longed for, prayed for, cried for — your old patterns don’t come along, too.
“So many of us choose our paths out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect so we never dare to ask the Universe for it…. You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” —Jim Carrey
The truth is, you don’t need to know how to live the dream after you get it.
Just continue to breathe deeply into the unknown.
Try it: Lotus Pose, Padmasana
Lotus Pose can be an unknown posture for many of us, as it’s rarely taught in today’s modern yoga studios. The dream-like posture needs consistent practice and patience to avoid strain or injury. No surprise that your deep breath is needed and can be practiced here.
Traditionally, the jnana mudra for Lotus Pose is taken with the palms face up, index and thumb touching and other fingers outstretched. I’ve chosen to have the palms down for a more grounding variation and to bring less effort into the arms. As you can tell, both of my knees don’t touch the ground (normal) but yours might be closer than mine.
Here’s how to arrive in this pose to keep your knees and ankles safe. Note: If you’re a beginning student, start with Half Lotus (until step 3) on both sides until you feel comfortable and open in the hips to try both.
- Start in Staff Pose, Dandasana. Bring your right leg in and drop the knee out to the right. The sole of the foot will come to the inner left thigh, as if practicing Head-to-Knee Pose, Janu Sirsana. Use your hands to externally rotate the right thigh.
- Then, with left hand to ankle and right hand to knee, lift the shin up parallel to the ground. Guide the right heel in toward you, closing the back of the knee and calf together. Bring the knee toward the center of your mat as you lift the ankle on top of the left thigh. Stay active in the foot and ensure that the foot doesn’t sickle from the anklebone.
- Stay here for Half Lotus, or go for Full Lotus by bringing the left leg in, externally rotating the thigh, closing the knee, and picking the ankle and knee up in the same plane as you stack the left foot on top of the right thigh. You may need to rock slightly back in the hips to do this.
- Finally, form your jnana mudra with thumb and forefinger touching, the other fingers outstretched together, and place the palms down or up as you choose.
- To unwind, come out the same way you came in, using your hands to safely uncross the legs. Don’t forget to practice the other side, drawing the left leg in first.