A poem, this one written from the Shropshire hills.
The passing of Michael Stone acts as a wake up call to all that teach and practice yoga. In a culture where weakness is frowned upon, vulnerability is weakness, and there is no time for grief, no space for sadness, no acknowledgement of deep pain, yoga could be offering us salvation. Yoga could be building a community where we create space for weakness, for vulnerability, for grief, sadness and pain. But it isn't. Yoga (or the industry around it) is exactly the same as the other corporate bullshit we are fed #everydamnday. We all have a responsibility, to ourselves and to others. To get real - and to learn what true love really is.
When our attitude to ourselves is one of loathing, it doesn't matter what we do to change or improve ourselves, we will always fail. Companies like Weightwatchers make most of their money from repeat customers, because if you are punishing yourself with food and exercise, you are going to run out of steam and either go on a mad binge or just burn out. The more we can bring love to everything we do, the easier it becomes to realise that you truly are beautiful.
Aah, perfection. The strive towards being not just better than we already are but utterly flawless. To never fail, to always be in control, and to be the best person we can be usually involves trying to become the beauty and success we see portrayed in the media around us and to live up to the beliefs in our heads about what it means to be happy/rich/beautiful/successful/all of the above.
I am absolutely all for progress. I believe we can, to a certain degree, take control of our lives by beginning to examine our thoughts and beliefs. By understanding more about how we think and feel, we realise that we have the potential to change some of those thoughts and beliefs to new ones which make us feel happier and more hopeful. We might decide that a new exercise routine is in order, or a change in our sleeping or spending patterns is needed. We may decide to radically change our lives by giving up our jobs, homes, relationships - or we may just decide a little bit of positive thinking is all that is needed.
When our desires for progress come from our heart, then our journey to get there should be, on the whole, a harmonious one, that brings greater joy and peace. Of course there will be times when we struggle with fear or self-doubt - the ego often prefers to keep us safe and unhappy rather than risk the unknown - but on the whole, we should generally feel like we're heading, more or less, in the right direction.
When our desires for progress come from fear, we often push too hard. It's not enough to start exercising a couple times a week, we should be doing it every (damn) day and seeing transformation instantly. It's not enough to give yourself time and space to learn new skills, but you expect yourself to have mastered something instantly, and to beat yourself up if you haven't.
Put simply, whenever we demand too much of ourselves, when we don't treat ourselves with love but instead we shout/abuse/criticise ourselves for not being enough, then we will never truly progress. Sure, the abuse you throw at yourself might be enough to motivate you in the short term, but long lasting happiness and peace never came from violence.
I'm too fat/too lazy/not clever enough/not pretty enough/not capable enough - the more we chose to think those thoughts, the more they become true for us. We start to look for evidence to support the beliefs, perhaps we find judgmental friends or family who support those beliefs. We may try to change ourselves based on the fact that those beliefs are true. We may find short term change, but if deep down we still believe ourselves to be fat/lazy/whatever, then ultimately we will revert back to that because we haven't changed the belief.
It's always easy to blame social media here, and it certainly can feed into feelings of inadequacy, but really social media is just another form of communication. If you're looking for affirmation that you need to do more, then social media will give it to you, just as your friends and colleagues will if that's what you're seeking.
By letting go of the need to be perfect, to be better, and to act from a place of love, any change that needs to happen will happen. In the meantime you can start to spend your energy in more productive ways, perhaps being doing the things you enjoy or think are fun, rather than the things you think you 'should' be doing.
No one is perfect. Not even the celebrity on the front of the magazine or the person with a zillion holiday snaps on Facebook. We are all gloriously, deliciously, and messily human, and who could ask for anything more?
Let go of the idea that you need to be more than you, even if it's just for a day. If that sounds impossible, imagine that you already have all the changes you need - you've got all the money, the body, the success, the love - and now what you do? Acting as though we already have everything we need, can surprisingly bring big results.
Let me know if any of this rings true, and if you want to delve deeper into your own limiting self-beliefs and fears and would like to work 121 with me, contact me at email@example.com.