Sunday, September 16, 2012

Off the Mat; Learning to Change

Change has continued to dominate my life lately. I am so glad. I needed this growth spurt, but in some ways it has not been easy for me. On the outside, the change is obvious: I live in a different city, I live with my significant other (and two other adults who have a baby!) when before I lived on my own. My teaching schedule is almost non-existent when I used to teach 15 classes a week.

On the inside, though, it's less obvious. I’ll catch myself living from some old paradigm, you know acting like a “me” not a “we” or something, and I wonder, how long have I been doing that? Shit!, I think, totally didn’t realize I was doing that. No wonder I feel all agitated and uncomfortable. When I bump up against that old part of myself that no longer fits, that part of me that needs to change, my body actually feels it. First I’m agitated or busy or distracted. Then I’m physically uncomfortable, my muscles feel tight and I can’t relax or get settled. Finally I feel pain, frustration, and anger.

Despite being painful, it is so familiar that I fear letting go of what I know. That’s the part I never  seem to get any more comfortable with. Sure it has gotten more familiar, I understand it better and recognize what is happening, but its not much easier. Through sheer will power and mental effort, I push the fear away, let go of what is tying me to the past and realign to the current situation. Then, I think, wow, I feel a million times better now!

The crazy part, of course, is that this evolution is constant. We can’t stop change, we can’t stay stuck and expect to be happy and healthy. So it takes courage to even notice when that ragged edge is present and go into the discomfort long enough to make an internal shift. The outside world reflects the inner landscape, and vice versa, I believe. Outside changes, the inside may have to catch up. The inside changes and the outside begins to look different.

Its really important to make space for myself, to be quiet and to be (at least, mentally) still so I can make those changes. In that space I welcome my feelings even if they are painful and I hate having to feel them. Its that space that allows me to purge old hurts, heal old wounds, and overcome fear (the things that usually tie me to the past). I stop judging myself, stop putting myself down, and stop hiding behind the comfort of who I used to be, the familiar. This doesn’t mean I have to go sit on my meditation cushion, though that helps and I do. I do this while I’m washing the dishes, or while walking on a trail or anytime I have the wherewithal to do so.

I get really honest with myself, like, hey I was being really bitchy to Aaron just then and he isn’t doing anything to deserve that, so what am I really upset about and why am I projecting it on him? So, this has taught me to be a better partner in relationships. I know how important that space is for me, so I’ve learned to better hold it for my students, my family members, and of course, my beloved. I practice being less judgmental and more compassionate. I practice saying nothing and just listening while the other person does his or her own work. I practice not taking it personally and remembering that the other person may be projecting and reacting just like I do.

I practice. And I practice yoga. 

Of course I practice asana. Bending and twisting and arching feel amazing, but its really just a tool to notice my ragged edge and to continue to evolve where I might be a little—or a lot—stuck. Yoga is really just one more of those times where I create space to be present with myself and learn to be a better person, to learn to change.


  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences Paisley. Embrace the journey, breathe deep. Blessing's and balance, Ken