You’ve surely had one of “those days” that couldn’t end fast enough. Last Wednesday was one of mine.
I couldn’t get comfortable in my skin — not in yoga class, not at work, not at home. My brain was on alert for sound, the kinds that cause me to cover my ears, flee the room and/or get angry. (More on my misophonia/selective sound sensitivity here.)
I had reached a limit, just like my dog when car doors slam outside. There’s no bringing her back for a while until she fulfills her urge to roo-roo-roo! at the noise.
And yes, I just compared myself to my dog.
The truth is, I had to fall apart so I could start over. It looked like sobbing and journalling and being fed up with feeling out of control. This is what I wrote:
I DO NOT WANT THIS MY ENTIRE LIFE.
A moment feels like forever when you’re battling yourself and you can’t get away. The funny thing is, the more of these moments you have, the quicker the rebound.
I woke up the next morning, ready to start again.
Making a change
Two days after my mini-meltdown, one of my friends packed everything she owned into four giant tubs and headed for the West Coast. Her going away party was a reunion for me of people I worked with for two-and-a-half years, and a wishing well for her future.
It was beginning and continuation and end all at once, like chanting Aum.
One of the beautiful things with seeing a friend depart is that you get to vicariously live their fresh start. It breathes energy into your priorities, because you start thinking about how you didn’t spend enough time with that friend like you wanted to. You took for granted that she’d always be around.
But people aren’t always around. They move across the country, take another job, get married. Maybe they complete milestones you thought you’d have experienced by now. And a part of you wants what they have, if only for the newness.
Starting over dispels distractions. It puts laser-sharp focus on what you most want, even though you’re not sure how you’ll get it.
All you know is, you do not want “this” (whatever “this” is for you) your entire life. You’re fed up and ready to make a change.
Pick your starting line
Your starting line doesn’t have to be a change of location. You can easily pick your starting line in the every day:
- After you realize you’ve said something that hurts your soul and others’.
- When you identify with something that does not define you (i.e. your weight, your wealth, disease)
- After you roll out your yoga mat, and then every breath you take on it.
- When you catch yourself saying, “I’m not as pretty/talented/smart as that person.”
- In the evening, when you begin your nightly ritual of ruminating about what you did or didn’t get “done” that day.
Big changes are less scary when you make little ones each and every moment. When you change your default mentality from “just getting through it” to “being here now with it,” oh my, how life bends into focus.
Today’s change might be to lift up into an inversion and face fear, or to simply not do a yoga pose that always leaves you aching — mind and body — afterward.
We can do and choose to not do on our mats, and the great thing is we are always changing.
Maybe you aren’t ready to make a change 12 hours of your day, but you at least consider it for 10 minutes. That is, in itself, a start.
You will know when it’s time to crouch down at the starting line, even if you don’t yet know the destination. The next time you have one of “those days,” let it serve as 24 hours of being with what you don’t want so you can continually discover what you do.
Try it: Crescent Lunge Twist Variation, Parivrtta Anjaneyasana
Yoga is itself a practice of starting over. Every time you come to the mat something begins, continues and is let go. Prove it by inhaling through the nose and exhaling out through the mouth three times in a row; it’s impossible not to feel refreshed.
This twisting variation of Crescent Lunge embodies the past, present and future and your role in the present. Willow wasn’t having it when I tried to lift my back knee up off the mat, so I ended up grounded, instead. It’s a nice variation because you can truly isolate the twist without worrying about the stability in your legs.
- From the top of your mat, step your left leg back into a lunge. Drop the left knee to the mat and uncurl the toes. Bring your hands to your right thigh and square your shoulders. Draw your right hip back slightly and left hip forward to square your hips
- Inhale the arms up and lift from the low belly, reaching the bottom ribs away from the pelvis. Exhale and soften the tops of the shoulders down, but keep the crown of the head energetically reaching up.
- Exhale, reach the right arm behind you and left arm forward, thumbs face up and extending wide through the fingers. Twist from the mid and upper back without force, keeping the hips level and lower belly lifted, navel moving toward the spine.
- Breathe deeply for four to six deep breaths. Inhale your arms in front of you, then exhale and drop them to the mat. Step the right leg back to meet the left, curl your toes under and lift the hips into Downward Facing Dog. Exhale, drop the knees and step the left leg forward into a lunge for the second side.