Transformation in progress… please excuse my mess!*
This is taped on the wall of my studio during some current construction. We have had some fun comments, including some who wanted to wear the sign home!
Transformational change IS messy – we have to give up our patterns and habits …parts of our “us-ness,” our comfortable/familiar way of being – plus we can’t control what the new “us” is going to look/feel like – just as the caterpillar who becomes goo in the cocoon before becoming a butterfly. Change is rarely graceful, perfect, logical, etc. – it’s a darn yucky business!
We need a compelling reason to stop doing more of the same.
To change … we must first experience our “what is” as unpleasant enough for us to take the risk and do the work required. We need a compelling reason to stop doing more of the same.
Otherwise, we take something new that we learn and fit it into the paradigm we already currently run. Like re-arranging the proverbial deck chairs
Good news: the more clear we are about how unpleasant – even untenable – the current “what is” is, the less work the change will be. And vice versa… change will feel like it requires a lot of determination and struggle if we aren’t truly compelled by knowledge and felt experience of why we need change.
Hindsight tells us to look for the cause…
Here’s a simple example: there is a water stain on ceiling so we paint it over. All gone! Yet it comes back each year… finally the ceiling collapses, ruining the sofa too. Now, with the damage bad enough, we find the leak in the roof, repair it, etc.. Hindsight tells us we would have been better off to look for the cause of the water stain in the first place, before the ceiling collapsed taking the furniture out as well.
Likewise with our bodies: we have an injury, take advil, or other short term remedies, while continuing our habitual patterns of use and movement. Until something tears and we need surgery. Even then, many still go back to habitual movement patterns, totally unaware these very patterns of movement caused the injury and tear.
One day the cost is too high, and we are ready for change.
So too in our relationships: we change friends, jobs, etc. blaming the problem on someone else, or we start chipping away at what is important to us, thinking to “get along” and lose ourselves in the process. Then one day the cost is too high, and we are ready for change, physically, mentally, emotionally.
Who am I if not my habits and stories?
Here is when it gets messy, even scary (who am I if not my habits and stories?) but it also gets exciting. Like spring coming, new life popping up, seeking the light.
The best place to start is on your yoga mat or your meditation cushion. Welcome and truly pay attention to the still small voice of “what is.”
Experiments with physical and mental/emotional balance…curiosity required.
Try these experiments with BALANCE over the next few weeks, and let me know what you find!
Physical balance: stand normally on a flat surface and notice your breath. Shift your weight to one leg. Did your breathing change? Did you lean to the side? Did you brace anywhere (e.g.: shoulders, knees, lower back, belly)? How is your jaw? Are you frustrated to be considering all this instead of just doing Tree pose as you see it in your mind? How is what you discovered similar to how you move in other parts of your life?
Mental/emotion balance: today, guard your balance as you would your most precious resource. Don’t find your balance from a place in your head of what it should look like. Instead find guidance from the messages in your body, your heart. In this moment do you need more sleep? To exercise? Do you need to eat differently? Do you need to say no to something being asked of you? Act on the messages of your body and heart and explore what balance looks like.**
* Yogiraj Charles Bates first said this in a workshop many years ago
** borrowed (and slightly adapted) from Deborah Adele’s The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice