Life Lessons Learned in Yoga

Last week I put my intention out there: within the next two years, I want to spend several months a year in Colorado to be able to live near my nephews and be a part of their life on a more regular basis.

Immediately following that declaration, I went into a tailspin. My “monkey brain,” the very same one that churns like an ocean in a storm when I try to meditate starting buzzing with everything that I will need to do to make that goal a reality.  

My brain very quickly turned to: What the hell am I thinking??

The blessing and curse of being an achievement-oriented person, I view a goal, and immediately begin to map out the tasks I’ll need to do to get there, almost like building a set of stairs moving me to the next floor. My brain starts churning and I become very focused considering all that I must do, the risks, the issues that I’ll deal with, what and who I will need to make it happen.

And then I realized, I don’t really need to do this. At least not right now. Sure, at some point in time, I’ll need to figure out the details, but my job for the moment is setting the intention: the what. How that will happen will come later, and when it’s the right time, the big pieces will start to fall into place.

For now, my job is to have faith, to be clear in my intentions and to be sure I’m putting out there exactly what I want. When I feel my brain start to slip in this mode, I find the following lessons learned in yoga class help to get me back on track.


Be in the Now

I don’t need to worry about all the details of my future plans in one year, two years, or even further out. I need to focus on my now. “When you feel your mind drift off, come back to the mat” is the guidance in yoga class. So, I work to ground myself in my day-to-day of what I am doing, what I enjoy, and where my attention currently needs to be.

Acknowledge the Feelings

I find that often, I’m my own harshest critic. Some of my tailspin is because I’m feeling nervous, scared or even panicky about something and don’t think I should, or don’t want to feel that way. Then I judge the feeling as not good and I get annoyed with myself for it. It’s a vicious cycle. Instead if I just recognize how I’m feeling and why, it seems to not be quite so important. In yoga, I’m told to go as far into a stretch as I can, and stop when I feel pain. My body needs to be my barometer and I need to listen to how I’m feeling and acknowledge it.

Envision the Future

Slowly but surely, I’m starting to learn to calm my mind to meditate. Yoga teaches us to take a moment before getting into a pose to envision ourselves in it. I find that when I focus on how I want to feel about things, more than what will be, then I can better keep my brain from spiraling. I want to feel happy, peaceful, content and joyful, so I focus on that, and not the details of what my life will be like. 

Remember the Priorities

My goal of being in Colorado is all about family and being with my brother and nephews. Focusing on that, and how I will feel when I get to spend more time with them, watching the boys grow up helps to keep me grounded and calm. The details will work out, and most of them just really aren’t important.

What’s important is my nephews. Staying focused on that, makes a difference. I liken this to the concept of drishti in yoga, which is a point of focus where the gaze rests during a posture where you are gazing outward to bring the awareness inward.

I have my drishti point and I’m grateful for that.

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