Sometimes the most difficult part of our practice is to just show up everyday on our mat.
This is our first blog post ever, and I admit it took a long time to write. In fact, the ‘blog’ button you clicked has been in the toolbar since November of 2021! But I wasn’t showing up to fill it. All the thoughts about where to start, what to say, how long should it be, and will anyone even read it, just kept taking up my creative energy around the process.
This cycle went on for a few months as did endless writing, then deleting and starting over. The modern-day version of a trashcan overflowing with crumpled paper.
The team works hard at RDY to make sure that everything we do is done right. From the best instructors and mentors in our yoga school to a solid variety of class offerings in yoga, breath, meditation, and even experiences with nature and social interaction. It’s all about the right offering, for the right person, at the right time. So, the pressure to write something ‘right’ for our community had a palpable effect on the timing of our blog launch.
I took a step back into my practice and realized that the most important thing I could do is to start; to simply show up, do the work, and let it go! If it’s not perfect, that’s ok, it’s out there and it will get better each time. It’s a practice, and here it is!
I think we all feel this kind of hesitation when we are trying to create a healthy new routine for our lives. There are so many facets to living well that it can be overwhelming especially if we plan a complete make over instead of a little repair and maintenance. Sometimes it feels like starting a wellness journey is just adding more stress to our stress and moving us mentally farther from what we need instead of bringing clarity. So we make a plan but never show up.
Now we find ourselves here again, at the threshold of a new year, and our newsfeeds are filled with ideas for all the things we need to do to feel happy, healthy, and whole. From fitness to life coaches, the “memes of wisdom” are all piling on so quickly it’s hard to figure out who’s selling what. And for many, the stress to make this year count is building.
Real life is not a carefully curated persona on IG, it can’t be summed up in our Tic Toc brand or move at the combined pace of millions of content creators. Those are all fun things, but probably not where we will find anything meaningful to carry along on our next journey around the sun.
Real transformation has a slower rhythm, and requires work, but the results are lasting and tangible. We can build on our journey year after year without annual attempts at radical change because the fundamental path has remained the same since the beginning of time. ‘New’ scientific discoveries repeatedly confirm the practices that have been around for millennia. Once on the right path, you hold the keys to your journey, don’t let anyone take them from you.
Like writing this blog post, the first step should always be contemplative and small. Going inside, (however you like to make that happen) and touching base with yourself. Taking time to find your right path and looking for course corrections.
Perhaps ‘going inside’, quieting your mind and being present with the moment is something you struggle doing. If so, that should be your primary goal, because none of the rest of your goals will work well or be aligned until that tool is available to you. And remember it’s not perfection, it’s a practice, even when you are practiced with the tools for remaining fully present, you may still struggle; and that’s ok.
When I have a lot of stuff to mentally sort through, the best thing for me to do is practice, or go for a walk in the woods. This forces me out of my head and into the present moment, which in turn gives my mind a chance to relax, let go of the external noise and rumination, and allow my path to be illuminated in its time. What is your preferred method of contemplation? Make this your first step, to deeply discern what you need.
There is nothing wrong with setting goals for an upcoming year, or a general path you want to travel. In fact, it’s important that we constantly tend to our journey by examining our path, determining what doesn’t serve us and letting those things go to make room for new growth. It’s like weeding a garden. But adjusting and aligning these goals with the pace of our journey is the key to finding accomplishment.
In many eastern traditions our journey is guided by the seasons, each serving as a threshold much like we view the New Year only in more manageable increments. Crossing the threshold from one season to the next, we adjust our physical practice, mental practice, even our diet to align with each new season. There is a time to plant, grow, harvest, and rest in preparation for the next cycle. As you set your goals, keep in mind that most of us are in the winter season. It’s our time to rest, do our maintenance and repair work, and get ready for the more active spring and summer seasons.
Learning from this practice, you can look for adjustments, smaller commitments, and steps you can take that have a positive impact on your life, rather that resolutions for a radical change. Maybe think about a couple of habits that no longer serve you and let go of those to create space for new ones that will grow to fill the space as you cross the threshold into a more active spring season. Look at what needs to be maintained or repaired in the lower energy winter season to ready your mind and body for the seasons to come.
I feel like this calls for a list…because every post needs a list…perhaps you can make a list too. But let’s both keep the lists short because if my list is too long you won’t read it and if your list is to long you won’t do it…so here we go.
1. Write down two or three things in your life that no longer serve you well.
Maybe you are staying at home too much, spend too much time online instead of interacting in person, have a fridge full of vegan junk food or work too much. Keep it small for our purposes here, big things like unhealthy relationships, toxic friendships, or your life’s work are for another time, another place, and another post. For now focus on lifestyle habits that perhaps aren’t going to prepare you adequately for the journey ahead. But they take up space in your routine so they need to be set aside.
2. Write down two or three things that you want incorporate as near-term goals.
These are things that you can pursue with your newly available energy and created space. If you stay home too much, maybe you can list out a few things you could put into your daily routine that require you you to leave the house. If you spend too much time online, maybe list a couple of things you enjoy that are in person…like, say, more in person yoga classes at RDY (shameless plug…). These new habits will set you up for growth in the coming months and replace the habits that worked against you.
3. Now put your pen down and walk away.
Go do your practice, walk in the woods, whatever you like to do that forces you out of your head and into the present moment. Let it be in the background to ponder.
If you think about it, outside of a few major events, you can’t plan your whole year with any certainty, so spend more effort on your near-term plans (the coming season) while maintaining a long-term strategy or the general direction of your path.
But you also can’t do the ‘LA thing’ and not commit to ANYTHING until you are certain nothing better is going to come along. Yes, that’s how we roll for the weekend, but when it comes to your personal life, maybe you deserve a little more priority. You should have some firm longer term plans as well.
So, something in between is the best option, not too far out but not to close in either. I feel another list coming on!
1. Plan one or two BIG things for the year.
No more than two. It could be a trip, it could be learning something new, maybe you want to learn to surf or teach yoga, but make it about you. These are not lifestyle things, these are a couple of big, self-serving, well deserving, all about YOU, commitments. And then make them happen. Plan everything else around them, you deserve that! And I don’t mean a new car, make it something meaningful and experiential. Something that is mentally, physically and/or spiritually enriching.
2. Plan your winter.
Going back to your list above, take the things that you want to let go of and the things that you want to add and let that be your winter. Make a plan that you can execute and get it done. Make time for rest, renewal, and preparation for the growth of spring. Winter is a great time for learning and to make lifestyle changes that will lay the foundation for things to come such as developing a personal care routine. It’s a great time to maintain and repair your body and your mind to get ready for the more active times of spring and summer.
3. Think ahead to spring and summer.
What might you add to your routine as you go through the year? How will the work you are doing in this season develop a routine that will serve you well as you continue to build through the year toward your goals? This is the part where you set a direction for your journey but recognize your plan isn’t fully implemented in January, you build into it and let it remain fluid until the season is at hand.
Now put down your pen and go do your thing. Let all of this sort of move around in the background and begin to take hold.
Revisit this simple plan and edit it until what is on paper feels right in your body. Imagine the execution in detail growing in intensity as you build on winter’s foundation into spring and ultimately reach your destination. With each progression in your mind, you can feel what the change will be like in your body and imagine yourself ready to meet the moment each step of the way. If it feels stressful when you visualize it, then dial it back until it feels manageable. This small exercise will really help galvanize your resolve and motivate you to see the importance of each small step to reaching your goal.
Now you are ready to pick a point and start. You are ready to show up and take the first step into a new year of transformation that will unfold with the comfortable rhythm and pace of your journey.
Yoga is an amazing practice, it’s a science and the only thing required is to show up and do the work. It doesn’t matter where you are coming from or what condition you are in, the practice meets you where you are and takes you on a journey, at your pace, to your goal. So, for this season, take a moment of contemplation, set reasonable expectations that align with where you are starting, and then show up for yourself.
I hope you get some good ideas from this simple planning exercise. I am excited to see what this new year brings for everyone.
See you on your mat!