I am driving today. headed west and north until I reach the Pacific Ocean and the central California coastal town of Morro Bay. Here’s a reprint of an article that is as true today as when I first wrote it.
We all have bad days. You know, when everybody bugs you, when nothing anyone does is good enough, when you wish you could run away for a while, even from yourself.
In an ideal world we could retreat from the world and wait for the moodiness to pass.
But in this real world, how do you find your way back to your own center?
I was dangerously grouchy with the world this morning. I was annoyed at the school boy riding his bike on the sidewalk instead of in the bike lane. I was short with the woman at the grocery store for talking with the previous customer when it was clearly my turn. I grumbled at the way my neighbor crookedly parked, making it difficult for me to back out.
I felt like I should have had yellow caution taped wrapped around me, as fair warning.
Usually, I am able to honor and accept the ways and rules that people choose for themselves without letting their behaviors annoy or aggravate me. But this morning for whatever strange reason (maybe hormones), I had no compassion, no patience, no benevolence. At all.
Fortunately, I have my weekly yoga practice.
In the sacred space of my yoga class, I stepped onto my mat and allowed myself to release whatever was harboring those un-compassionate feelings. It didn’t need a name or a reason. It was just energy that wasn’t serving me and I needed to let it go.
I breathed into my core, imagining only strength, no emotion at all. I followed my breath to the bottoms of my feet and felt the floor, the ground, the earth, supporting me as I let it all go.
And then I breathed into my belly, my lungs and lifted my heart toward forgiveness and gratitude.
I know it sounds hokey but this is what yoga is for me.
Yoga is more than the physical poses, the bending and stretching and strengthening of my outer body.
Yoga is also connecting with my breath and stretching and strengthening my inner body.
Yoga helps me integrate my physical energy with my spiritual energy. Yoga is how I connect my individual self with the greater life force that is each of us.
And when I am part of this connection, I no longer feel angry with the bike rider or impatient with the grocery clerk or frustrated with my neighbor’s parking skills.
Instead, I am able to lean back into compassion for each of them, and I can more easily, more freely, accept the choices they have made.
I started going to yoga classes seven years ago to become more flexible. Little did I know that the flexibility would translate beyond just how far I could bend to touch my toes.
I have become more flexible with how I approach my entire life, from letting go of strict schedules and deadlines and not wearing a watch, to sitting back and giving people the space they need to do their own growing.
Yoga introduced me to my spiritual essence and the deeper inner wisdom of my body. When I was recovering from open heart surgery several years ago, it was my yoga practice that helped me stay patient and present and focused on healing. Even before I could return to class, I would sit in my chair and just breathe, relaxing, releasing, healing.
My yoga practice reminds me that it doesn’t matter if someone else can bend further or reach higher, that we each need to only focus on our own best selves and to tune in and listen to our own bodies as we stretch to our own soft edge.
And so, when I find myself comparing myself to someone, or judging someone for how they are acting, I come back to my yoga practice, to my breath, to my heart.
And I remember that, “when I honor the light and love in me where the entire universe resides, and I honor the light and love in you where the entire universe resides, then there is only one of us.”
What does your yoga practice offer you?
I’d love for you to share your story with my readers by clicking the Comments.