When I arrive at the top of my mat I am granted a moment of self-reflection. It is here that I can quiet the outside world and begin to focus on what I am bringing to my practice–my body, my breath, and my mind just as they are. It is also here that one can begin to tailspin into a thought process of attaching to whatever comes up and the chances of that can continue until the very end:
I’m so stiff. This will be tough. Why am I so tired? I shouldn’t have eaten so much last night. I can’t do this….but I know I can do this! Why is this so hard?? I should be able to do this. Am I doing this right? This is so frustrating. What is wrong with me?? It’s because I’m too fat. I’m too weak. I’m too tight. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. What am I doing here? I’m not good enough for this. Why am I even trying? I look ridiculous. I should just give up….
Initially these thought patterns come up without us even noticing them. When that happens our behaviors and reactions to them will show us where our mindset is and then we have to work backwards to figure it out: We quit before even trying. We make excuses for ourselves. We resist the things that seem too hard, too difficult, too challenging. We give up before anyone notices that we have failed. We make jokes at our own expense.
If we want to change anything about the life we have created thus far, we have to draw these self- sabotaging patterns up and out of the dark. For many of us, this is why we practice yoga.
There will be a method of yoga asana that sparks something within you and the result will be a desire to seek out your truth. It will force you to see yourself so clearly that your choice becomes whether to keep going and dig deeper, stay exactly the same, or walk away. It will mirror your choices and the patterns you repeat and it will give you a chance to practice a different way of being, of seeing, of living.
What do you do when you feel challenged? What do you do when you feel threatened or afraid? Do you compare yourself to others to determine your value? How do you respond when you feel insecure or believe you are not enough? What do you do when you don’t believe in yourself?
I encourage you to listen every time you tell yourself “I can’t.” Hear yourself every time you say “but it’s hard.” Hear yourself when you settle for bare minimum or make excuses for why you do what you do and why you are where you are. When you do, I encourage you to explore where that thought process is coming from and shine a light. Bring it to the surface so you can recognize it for what it is: a thought process that does not serve your journey for growth.
Then take that next moment to pause and slow down your breaths as you continue your practice. Make each breath more intentional and make them deeper to still your mind as you move. Feel what comes up in your heart and with that pure light of awareness, shift your attention to the thoughts that can serve you: This is my body. This is my practice. This is where I am today and I am doing my best.