Photo by Heather B. Davis
Sometimes I want to bang out a “5 easy steps” type of post. 5 painless steps to a rock solid yoga practice or to finding peace of mind. 5 easy steps to enlightenment or maybe instead something highly practical like making a simple, nutritious meal. But even with food, first we have to start with what it is we want, and that is where we often get stuck.
As a teacher, I would so love to have the recipe, the answer and to share it with you, because I know that often, you just want the answer too. As a student, sometimes so do I. But as much as I sometimes desire those easy instructions; the process of reconnecting with ourselves (a.k.a. yoga), especially after a long absence – isn’t that simple.
Even when it is.
Just breathe. That is TWO easy steps. Inhale. exhale.
But, on the third exhale we find ourselves distracted by the fact that our stomach is growling and we really do need a good meal. We also need food in the kitchen if we ever want to make that meal. Now, we begin wondering what we want: preferably something quick, comforting and nourishing, that will make enough for leftovers. And suddenly we realize we’re holding our breath because this also means we have to go to the grocery store and OMG the grocery store is our personal hell (or, you know, mine).
Two simple instructions, and still we have gone off track! We are hardwired to struggle and distraction.
I could give you these two steps (inhale, exhale) or five others, but depending on the weather (inner or outer) and our particular needs and priorities, the steps might change. I don’t know the exact way for you, because there isn’t one way. And you and I, for all the ways we are the same, we have different lives and backgrounds and circumstances. I’m fortunate to have many tools at my disposal (with gratitude to my teachers); some of which have worked incredibly effectively for me, but the thing is that this is a process. Sometimes it takes just one tool (with a heavy helping of patience, perhaps…) Sometimes we’ll get discouraged with a few tactics when they fail to hold our attention or yield immediate results. Sometimes, we come back to one and realize that it pissed us off because, well, we always get cranky about this one particular thing (like the inability to make a basic decision). And maybe then we start to wonder why that is.
Practice of any sort takes patience and persistence, whatever the tools. It takes trial and error and curiosity and courage and tenderness. It’s also never finished, which may be why so many of us avoid it for so long or even forever – we want to finish something by god. We want to do it right and we want the answer and to be ok forever and ever. OM and Amen.
Why, then, would we want embark on a yoga practice, or self-exploration of any sort?
For now, I’ll keep it simple. One reason I’ve already alluded to is that it teaches us patience & perseverance. Another straightforward explanation I keep coming back to is this:
When we begin to get to know ourselves again, everything begins to get a little easier, a little more clear. Not overnight. Not in 5 painless steps. Not even all of the time.
Is it worth it, then? Most of us could use a little more ease in our lives. The only way to know for yourself is to try. The answer to what we want (or what we need) is in there somewhere, but most of us could use some tools and practice in asking the question.
Do you engage in any sort of formal or informal self-exploration? If so, what are your tools (yoga, meditation, writing, art or craft or any other sort of creative pursuit?) Do you find yourself wishing there were a simple recipe?
Because there aren’t 5 easy steps, because the recipe has infinite variations depending on our background, our needs and the make up of our days, reconnecting with ourselves can be intimidating! If you’re just beginning or considering a yoga practice of your own, steady support and guidance can be the difference between a solid, inspired beginning and feeling lost and frustrated in the packaged food aisle. I’ve built a private mentoring program specifically for you, to support you through the first (or the next!) 12 weeks. It’s called the Yoga of You, read about it here and schedule a chat with me to talk about it! The real work of yoga is the work we do on ourselves, but we don’t have to do it alone.