The dimly lit yoga space exhibits stillness. All of the students have peacefully surrendered into their final resting pose. At the front of the room I find a comfortable seat while gazing upon the rhythmic rising and falling of the students’ torsos. I intentionally scan the room so as to connect with each student when suddenly my eyes are drawn to a couple resting on their sides facing each other.
It was not the two bodies in fetal pose that seemed to catch my attention but the realization that both of their arms were extended and they were embracing each other holding hands.
I paused and started to connect with my own longtime yearning…my yearning for my husband to practice (or dabble in) yoga with me. My thoughts begin to create a space in my mind where no matter what he does it is never enough. Toxic thought bubbles were oozing from my head…Man I wish he would do yoga with me…I bet you even if he did yoga with me he would never be holding my hand in class…WAIT A MINUTE…this is not the storyline or role that I want to share with myself or the world.
I take a deep breath and begin to implement my imaginary “turn around toolbox.” I have been accessing this turn around toolbox for sometime and I figuratively pull it out when I want to transform my thinking from loathing to loving. We all have a box of tricks, lessons learned, hurtful experiences, and moments of growth. These lessons (or tools) offer us opportunities for healing, transformation, and ultimately wisdom of how to stay peaceful. I try and practice vigilance on my own subtle repetitive patterns of behavior that disrupt connecting to my heart center (or place of peace). But the secret really lies in remembering to retrieve these tools at the first hint of slipping toward the dark side. Here are some of the things I have noticed that invite me into the shadows of lacking:
a tightening or clenching sensation in my physical body
statements that support lack, not enough or nothing is enough
focusing on what’s missing in my life
feeling resentment or envious
living in the past (particularly focusing on failures)
wishing things were different
and paying attention to words like “if only” “can’t” “should” “could” and “would”
At the very instant that the “my life sucks” story line comes into my consciousness, I initiate my premeditated list of things that have created instantaneous and beneficial change for me such as:
concentrating on the breathe, counting the inhalation for 4 seconds holding for 1 second and exhaling for a count of 8 seconds
pausing to feel the sensation of my shoulders dropping and my sternum lifting
retrieving my own unique intention that faithfully guides my every decision
thinking of all the things that I am grateful for, and believe me this list is endless
briefly witnessing what I am feeling but then choosing something that connects me to a higher power, God, love or source (Example “Oh there’s envy again…I hear you…I feel you…but I am going to go ahead and choose to witness all that my husband does for us.)
So on this evening’s yoga class I start by zeroing in on gratitude, which immediately shifts my thoughts away from the unwanted crap that tries to live in my head. A vulgar quote quickly passes though my mind, “I have no time for negative bullshit!” As I inhale for a slow count of 4, I breathe in the opportunity that is happening before my big hazel eyes. I am witnessing the most precious and sacred moment between this affectionate young couple, and I’m being paid…for this is a gift! I notice my physical body relaxing and surrendering. As I steadily exhale, I wonder about their life together. I am grateful to be their yoga teacher. I am grateful for yoga. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve in this way. I devise a mental list of unique gifts within my own marriage: he loves to shop with me, he visits the ocean (even though he complains of the heat), he supports all my wild and crazy yoga journeys, he walks the dogs, on occasion he surprises me by folding all of the clean clothes, the list continues to pour over me like a cleansing rain. The grateful thoughts are cathartic. There is suddenly no room for lack in my heart. I am feeling fortunate, whole, complete, grateful, and abundant.
When I am able to access my own distinctive and steadfast toolbox, I can connect with the goodness that is already all around me. This undoubtably leads me to a more satisfying, happier and peaceful life (and relationships). While working as a marriage and family therapist, my favorite theory of therapy focused on the belief that if one person in the relationship changes then both must change in order for the relationship to exist. Therefore, even a tiny positive change in my thought pattern directly effects my relationships.
“One drop of water helps to swell the ocean; a spark of fire helps to give light to the world. None are too small, too feeble, too poor to be of service. Think of this and act.” – Hannah More
I would go so far as to say that if I continually “accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative” then my relationships will not only exist but will thrive.
Motivation takes you to levitation: I encourage you to get curious about what’s in your toolbox…what has generated positive changes in your life? Take a moment to write down things that have lifted you, shifted you, motivated you, and even enlightened you. These are the special tools that will be included in your “turn around toolbox.”