One morning, last summer, I was on my yoga mat and felt uncharacteristically distracted.
Non-yoga thoughts were racing through my mind, I was feeling anxious, and I started to fall into comparison-mode (about my yoga abilities and beyond).
I know something is up when this happens, because:
- It’s yoga. Presence. Ommmm….
- The reason I do Mysore-style Ashtanga yoga, is because I find it much less comparison-inducing and more centering than led yoga classes.
But the coolest thing happened while I was feeling deeply frustrated and all up in my head… A single, clear, calm thought passed through my mind:
“Be where you are.”
(These are some of my favorite moments… When I feel stuck in a rut of negativity and suddenly it’s like someone else, someone who cares deeply for me, speaks).
Be where I am?
Okay. Wow. Be where I am…
I don’t know whether it was just another part of myself chiming in, or a Pinterest Guardian Angel coming by to whisper Buddha quotes in my ear… But moments like this are always revolutionary and memorable to me.
Be Where You Are
For me, this has double meaning:
- Be present in the current moment. Observe your life as it unfolds.
- Be in allowance of where you are, of learning.
Let’s break it down:
1. Be present in the current moment. Observe your life as it unfolds.
One of the main things yoga aims to cultivate, is presence. It’s next to impossible to be somewhere else when you’re focusing on your breath, gaze points, body locks (bandhas), and a physical pose on top of that.
Being distracted in class is also a great way to injure yourself.
But beyond yoga, being present is something many of us are working on in our lives.
Whether we’re meditating, reading books like Eckhart Tolle’s, A New Earth (I highly recommend), going for walks in the woods, hugging our loved ones a little bit longer, growing our own food, putting down our phones, or closing our eyes and feeeeeeling the sunshine — we are trying to slow down, to connect, to enjoy the little moments, to be more present.
It’s a moment to moment job, and we can all use reminders now and again.
So be where you are. LIVE your life. Otherwise, you might miss it.
2. Be in allowance of where you are, of learning.
In yoga and all other practices, it’s easy to feel like we’re not good enough. Especially when we’re just starting out or trying to perfect a skill.
It can be SO frustrating when we just can’t get something right, and it gets even worse when we compare ourselves to others who make it look so easy.
But what I can tell you is, they didn’t get where they are without work, without first being a novice themselves.
I experience this a lot with painting. When I first started out, I wanted to be able to just paint whatever was in my head, without looking at it. Flowers, people, animals. It was so frustrating to me that I couldn’t do this.
But then I realized, Frida Kahlo practiced. Michelangelo practiced. Leonardo practiced. A lot. The people who are good at what they do, are good because they practiced, failed, succeeded, learned.
They had to be willing be beginners.
So if I want to be able to free-style paint something, then I have to study it. Over and over. Learn it’s anatomy, so I expect there’s a little dip at the wrist, or the hidden highlight inside a dog’s nose. And I have.
I have to be okay with being a novice. Or else I’ll never experiment or keep trying. I’ll just stop.
And the same goes for yoga. I’ve learned it’s nearly impossible to improve by force. It’s not until you surrender, relax, be where you are, that you are able to go deeper.
When you allow yourself to be where you are, in whatever your skill-set, you stop resisting, your body relaxes, you relax, and you can actually move deeper and grow faster than if you were focused on improving.
As a perfectionist, this is something I have to remind myself of constantly: Today’s best is good enough. And tomorrow we will try again.
BE BOTH IN PRESENCE and ALLOWANCE
The double meaning of “Be Where You Are” is so beautiful to me. I still often think of it when I’m on my mat, and it’s a great reminder for the rest of my life too.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, the original quote was from Buddha, who said, “Be where you are; otherwise you will miss your life”.
I want to live my life hands-on. I want to cultivate more of the things that make me happy. The little things. Like walking in the woods, laughter, good meals with friends and family, starry nights, making things with my hands, seeing the joy on my dog’s face when she runs through a field…
I want a full cup. Bursting with happiness and love. And I want to be here to experience it. So today I will choose, to be where I am. To be both present and forgiving.
I hope you will too, my friend.
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