A Lesson in Perspective
My jaw tightens. My shoulders tense up. My fingers fidget. My right hip screams at me. “GIVE UP ALREADY JENN, GET OUT OF THE POSE RIGHT NOW.” I struggle with the understanding that I'm supposed to stay. I wrestle with the truth that this is yoga. That the discomfort is just as much a part of my practice as the surrender. I tell myself to hold on but that voice in my head continues sending me threats from my right hip. I think of all the times I tell my students to breath, surrender, let go and I feel like a hippocrit. Just as I’m about to wiggle my way out of half pigeon, I hear my teacher ask a simple question:
"Are you breathing?"My answer - if you haven’t put two and two together already - is a big fat NO. Of course I’m not ujjayi breathing. How could I possibly be that connected to my breath when all of my awareness, energy and attention is zeroed in on what I hate about the pose? In that moment, I shift back to breathing. The tension in my right hip doesn’t magically disappear but somehow the voice in my head seems to soften. After a few breaths, I can’t hear it at all. And suddenly, I’m able to stay. It’s funny how what we choose to focus on can have such a massive impact on our experience. I’ve been in this exact same place before not just on my mat, but in my life too. One part of my life causes me stress, pain, sadness - whatever it might be - and before I know it, everything seems to fall apart. Something stresses me out at home and suddenly my teaching feels flat, I’m snapping at my boyfriend, my Mom is asking way too many questions, I have writer's block, I’m skipping my daily practice, losing sleep and moving through my days miserable. What causes this sudden downward spiral? Where I choose to focus my energy and attention. My practice is going to seem overwhelming if in every pose I focus on what I wish was different, what I don’t like, and what has to change for me to just stay. My life is going to seem miserable if I dwell on the things that aren’t working for me right now, the parts of my life causing me pain, and the parts of my life that seem out of control. In my experience, getting out of this mindset in my life is as simple as it can be on my mat. All I have to do is shift my perspective from focusing on what I don’t have, to appreciating what I do have. And isn’t this a great little lesson leading into Thanksgiving. The practice of giving thanks for what you have instead of consuming yourself with what you wish you did is, in my opinion, the perfect recipe for happiness. Start on your mat and let it spread into your life. When you feel yourself narrowing in on the negative, zoom back out and see all the things in your life that you have to be grateful for. Don’t let one tiny part of your practice or your life become your whole experience. Open your eyes and see all that you have.