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“Transformation is a process, and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs. It’s a journey of discovery – there are moments on mountaintops and moments in deep valleys of despair.” ~~ Rick Warren

gutpunch

(Photo Courtesy of DeviantArt)

It’s funny how life works sometimes, isn’t it? Things will seem to be going swell, and then out of nowhere, you get hit with something and it feels like a big ol’ punch in the gut. If you aren’t careful, it can knock you down, struggling to get back up again. Usually, we think of BIG things hitting us, like a divorce or someone we’re close to dying. But it amazes me how sometimes, even “small” things can knock someone out for the count (at least, I notice this with myself…anyone else out there have this same experience on occasion?).

So these past few weeks, I’ve been really focusing on incorporating more positive energy into my life. I’ve created daily challenges for my friends on Facebook (which I am doing right along with them), and some of them are designed to help with bringing in more positivity. Also, I was challenged by a friend to post three positive things each day for a total of seven days, and then name three different people each day to do the same. So by the end of the seven days, I will have challenged 21 of my friends to do what I am lovingly referring to as the “7-Day Positivity Challenge”. Pretty cool, don’t you think? I definitely do.

But let me be completely honest. This morning, I was questioning how cool this little challenge actually was. I had one of those days yesterday where I was hit with a couple of things that most would consider to be “small” things. And they WERE small things, but it didn’t feel small to me at the time. Maybe if I’d been hit with them individually on different days, I would have reacted differently. Who knows! All I know is that by 5:00 p.m. yesterday, I’d hit my breaking point.

The one thing that kept me from totally losing my mind was knowing I was going to meet my daughter at a yoga class after work. I walked out to my car, all excited, and then BAM! The parking garage was PACKED! It took me 20 minutes to get out of the garage, and then once I was out, the traffic on the main road was just CRAZY! This set off a full-blown panic attack. I mean, I totally NEEDED to get to yoga, and now I was wondering if I’d ever make it on time. So I closed my eyes (I was at a dead stop in traffic anyway, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt), took several deep breaths (OK, more like 151 deep breaths), and said a prayer. I asked God to please let me get there as quickly as I could, so I wouldn’t miss the class. I also asked him to keep me from panicking to the point that I’d have to pull over…after all, there was nothing I could do to make the situation better, so me freaking out was doing no one any good.

Well, I made it to class. I walked in right as class was starting, so once I changed clothes and claimed my spot, I really only missed the first 5 minutes. So I relaxed a bit…until we did our first chest opening pose. This was an EASY pose! Simply clasping the hands behind your back from a Mountain Pose and then folding forward while keeping the hands clasped behind you. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even clasp my hands from a standing position. WTH! I used to be able to do this ALL THE TIME! All through the class, every chest opening pose we did, I couldn’t do. It felt like I just had this web of steel across my shoulders, chest and upper back, which was limiting me from stretching any of those areas. As class went on, I got more frustrated with myself, and by the time we reached Savasana, I was struggling to keep the tears back.

The whole way home, I just let it out. I can’t remember the last time I had a really hard cry like that. When I got home, I was exhausted, so I took a shower and just went to bed. I didn’t have the energy for anything else but sleep.

That brings me to this morning. When I woke up, I thought about everything that happened yesterday. I thought about why I went into that tailspin of despair over such small things. Then I thought, “Oh God! I’ve got to post THREE positive things for today! How in the world am I going to DO that???”

Well, it got me to thinking. Maybe that’s why this whole “post three positive things each day for seven days” thing got started in the first place. I mean, it’s EASY to come up with positive things the first day or two…we’ve got the standard positive things to say about our families and friends and health, etc., etc. But as you go, you have to dig a little deeper each day for those positive things, and to me, these are the most meaningful. Because these are the ones we really have to THINK about. Get it?

This morning, I finally got it. And it was nice. I was able to come up with three positive things, despite still being in a rather crappy mood. And doing so made me feel a little bit better and a little more positive.

There are going to be days, for ALL of us, that are challenging. That’s life, right? I love the quote from Rick Warren above…he’s totally right. We can’t just magically be positive. It’s a process, and it takes time. We’re always going to have ups and downs, so we have to appreciate the journey and discover who we are along the way. When you find yourself down for the count, it’s how you choose to react to the situation that will eventually define who you are and how people see you.

So…what will YOU do when you get sucker-punched by life? Me? I will strive to look for the positive things, even if it’s hard to do…they are there. All I have to do is open my eyes and see them.

Namaste,

Melanie

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“When we acknowledge that all of life is sacred and that each act is an act of choice and therefore sacred, then life is a sacred dance lived consciously each moment. When we live at this level, we participate in the creation of a better world.” ~~ Scout Cloud Lee

a-better-world-logoPhoto Courtesy of Inside the Junk Drawer

Ever since I started teaching yoga, I’ve always loved the variety of people who come to my classes. Some of you have been on your yoga journey for quite some time, while some are just beginning. Some are working through injuries or illnesses, while others are extremely athletic and are just coming for a good workout.

One of the things I love best is when students let me know where they are with their practice. It makes my day to hear how yoga is helping, as knowing your experiences helps me to provide you with the classes that will serve you best.

Take a moment to ask yourself where you are in your practice right now. Where are you on your journey? The wonderful thing about yoga is that it is a JOURNEY, not a DESTINATION. I think that’s why I’ve stuck with it myself for so long…every time I reach one goal, I always have another to work towards. It keeps me coming back to my mat time and time again, and it’s so amazing to be able to look back at my practice over the years and see how I’ve evolved. And it’s also amazing to see how my “on the mat” practice has spilled into my life “off the mat.”

Don’t worry if you ask yourself where you are and you don’t know how to answer. Don’t freak out. It’s normal. Many times, we fill our lives with so much STUFF that we sort of function on auto-pilot and just go through the motions of whatever we’re doing. We may show up to class, and do all the things the instructor tells us to do, but we do it with no thought to the journey we’re on because we don’t even know where we want to go. Have you ever come home from a yoga class and your body feels tired and relaxed, but you can’t remember what you did to feel that way?

I love the quote by Scout Cloud Lee above, because I’ve rediscovered myself lately that life truly is a sacred dance lived consciously each moment. If we stay on auto-pilot for too long, life just passes us by. Gosh, I’ve been on auto-pilot for so long now, it’s ridiculous! Always thinking about things from my past and wishing I could change them, or worrying about what’s going to happen with my health or my family or my finances. When we focus too much on the past, that’s a recipe for depression to set in. When we focus too much on the future, that’s when anxiety takes over. Both of which are HORRIBLE for our physical and mental health. And really, when it comes down to it, we can’t get the past back, and we can’t control the future, no matter how much we think we can.

But we CAN live in the present moment. I saw a great post on Manduka’s Facebook page today about practicing participation, and it’s what inspired this particular blog post. Basically, we can choose to show up, fully. We can choose to be in it, deeply. We can choose not to just follow the path, but to shape it, and take diligent field notes along the way. When we can live consciously in each moment in this way, THEN we have a wonderful story to share with others. One that is meaningful and that will touch everyone around us. And THAT is how we can be part of making the world a better place.

Be patient with yourself if it doesn’t happen immediately. But make that choice. Make that choice to fully participate in your life NOW. Not your PAST life. Not your FUTURE life. You won’t regret it.

Namaste,

Melanie

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