Sometimes it’s hard to accept where I am… on my mat, in my life.
It sneaks up on me, this wanting more, this desire to be different than who I am, this dissatisfaction with who I might be or who I might become.
In Downward Dog, for instance, I’ll notice that my heels don’t touch the mat like the heels of the person doing Downward Dog beside me, or I’ll strain my neck while twisting into Triangle Pose, or lose my balance in the Dancer Pose.
And I’ll think: why can’t I be more flexible?
Or: why can’t I hold my balance?
Or: why can’t my body be different than it is so that my pose appears more graceful, more fluid, more natural?
The same thing happens in life, too.
I’ll be sitting at my desk gazing out the window and my attention will be diverted by a group of bicyclists speeding past in flashy colors and shiny helmets, and I’ll think: why can’t I be outside instead of inside? On a bike instead of behind a desk?
Or I’ll read something that takes my breath away and think: why couldn’t I have written that?
Or I’ll see a TV show about Alaska or Montana or Maine and wonder: why do I live in Florida in the middle of a heat-wave with a Category 3 hurricane hurtling toward the Gulf?
Thoughts like these flit through my mind and make it hard to accept where I am at the moment.
But, recently, I’ve started noticing these thoughts.
Instead of letting them carry me out of the moment, I try to observe the thoughts–Oh, that’s interesting, I like her writing or ah, wouldn’t it be great to dive into the ocean off the New Jersey shore–and then let them go.
I first started noticing these thoughts on my mat each time I worked my way into a challenging pose. The thoughts arose out of some mysterious place and distracted me from pain, from frustration, from failure. They took me out of the moment.
The thoughts, I realize now, were just thoughts. Illusions. Ways that my mind had devised to keep my self from fully engaging in the world as it is.
Now in Downward Dog, when my heels don’t touch the ground, I try to accept that I can only stretch my hamstrings so far. Maybe one day, if I keep practicing and stretching, my heels will touch the mat, but not today.
I try to accept where I am in each pose. No longer do I compare myself (as much) to the person next to me. No longer do I wish for something different. What I try to remember each time I step on the mat is this: I can be myself. I can find the unique person who I am meant to be in this moment.
Practicing yoga helps me notice the distracting thoughts that arise, and each pose teaches me to let them go and accept where I am.
And writing in my journal helps me learn to accept myself as I truly am … now, in this moment.
Practice Journal: Take a few moments to sit on your mat and notice whether you can accept where you are today. If it’s hard for you to accept where you are right now, make a list of whatever serves as a distraction. Can you explore how the distraction takes you out of the moment? Spend some time in Downward Dog before lowering your knees to rest in Child Pose. Can you accept yourself in Child Pose? How do your expectations in Child Pose differ from your expectations in Downward Dog? Write about how expectations might stand in the way of your ability to accept wherever you are right now.