With Thanksgiving taking place this Thursday, I think we can say that the “holiday season” is starting to get underway. The holidays are portrayed as a magical time full of joy, laughter and family and although this is true for some, it is not the standard for all. It is also a time where people are reminded of loss, triggering unexpected and deep-rooted tough emotions. It is a time where we often fall back into the same patterns of behavior we once had growing up. We play the role we were given in the family dynamic rather than what we have chosen to grow into as adults. This causes us to be in a state of reactivity treating the present moment as our enemy rather than our friend. But what if this holiday season, we switched our approach? What if we treated this as a time of reflection? An opportunity to notice how much we have indeed progressed on this journey called life and yet, how much more capacity we have to grow. I often find myself in situations asking; what would Mother Theresa and Buddha do? Life is gracious and it will keep giving you opportunity after opportunity to learn your lessons. So let’s move beyond it this year. Treat the present, as you would a beautiful moment in your life. Accept your life as it is right now and look for what is right. If you’re not able to find anything, please keep searching. You can start by being grateful for your life. For having a roof over your head. For your eyesight. For your voice. Treat the present, as your friend, not your worst enemy. The other shoe doesn’t always drop. The other shoe could be a sheer figment of your imagination. All I’m saying is watch your attitude. Be honest with yourself. What are you truly creating? You might even put yourself in an adult “time out” and take a few minutes to inhale up the spine and exhale out of your mouth. Connect to your physical self and shut down the thinking mind. If that still doesn’t work, remind yourself that you’re a bad ass and do a handstand even if you have to use the damn wall! Throw a spontaneous dance party! If you’re life and family are perfect, great, but for the rest of us, let’s do this. See the good inside of you and others. Be kind. I guarantee you that we are all much more alike than we are different. xo
Lately, while walking Anjali and sitting in traffic, I’ve been listening to NPR’s “How I Built This.” The creation and building of my Ellavate Yoga online platform has required courage, tenacity and determination, especially in these early stages. So to keep my anxiety and fears at bay, I’ve been extremely mindful of what I feed my mind.
I recall the observations of Maureen and Tony Wheeler, the founders of Lonely Planet. “Our business grew very slowly,” they emphasized. “It was more like the snowball rolling down a hill. You have to keep pushing it at first— and then it starts developing momentum and starts to get larger as it rolls down the hill. In the late 80’s, early 90’s, it became obvious that this thing had its own momentum and it was carrying us as much as we were pushing it.” At its height, Lonely Planet was valued at a quarter of a billion dollars. Not bad momentum!
So how can we apply this in our lives? If I think about my yoga career in Los Angeles, it definitely has its own momentum. I’ve worked hard to develop myself as teacher, student and a human being for the last seven years. However, my online platform is just beginning. Because it’s new, it often demands al my attention. It reminds me of my furry love Anjali, when she was just a few weeks old. I love her to pieces now, but I was certain she was defected as a puppy. The online platform humbles me and has the ability to bring me to tears of despair or joy— depending on the day. It shows me how attached I am to a certain vision—to a rigid time frame in which to meet my goals. It’s a dream being written and developed right in front of my eyes. It’s an investment in myself. It’s my ultimate test in patience. Right now, as I’m creating the snowball, I’m thinking damn, haven't I climbed enough hills in my life? Is this real life? How long do I have to push this snowball before it has its own momentum? When will life carry me?
When I get done with my pity party, I remember my “why.” My burning passion for this project. My excitement and vision. So I can convince myself to celebrate the little wins and keep going. If you can feed your mind the right things and listen to those who have done similar things in their respective fields, you can learn from their mistakes as well as your own. You do better because you know better.
So what in your life has its own momentum? Can you remember how you got there and be proud of that work? Can you use it as trust and inspiration for the part of your life that requires you to push right now? Of course, that requires you to have discipline, blind faith and tenacity. But aren’t you worth the investment?
Thanks for reading and Make sure to leave your comments below!
If you’ve been to one of my public classes in the past year, you will hear me say “be at peace” at the end of class. It is something I wish for in myself and others. For better or worse, we tend to duplicate the same pattern of behavior we ourselves were shown and experienced growing up. Take a second and try to honestly think back to your childhood. What kind of household were you raised in? What behaviors you learned as a child then are you duplicating now as an adult? The first step to maturity is becoming aware and noticing if the patterns you’re recreating from childhood are helping your potential or hindering your current life.
My biological parents and early gymnastics coaches communicated through physical and emotional abuse. It’s no surprise that, as an adult, I’m prone to acting out of anxiety and fear. Lately I’ve been experiencing longer periods of peace. At first I was in such disbelief, I thought perhaps I was depressed. But I wasn’t experiencing the heaviness associated with depression. I believe I was afraid to allow myself to fully be at peace because that’s not an emotion I experienced as a child, and as such, it was unfamiliar to me. On some level, I believed I didn’t deserve peace.
Recently, on the way to pick up my sister from LAX, I was already running late and then there was an accident on the 405. As traffic was slowing down, I could feel anxiety and fear creep in until they seemed to fill the entire car! At first, it felt like a happy reunion! For better or worse, these are the feelings that I knew. Unlike peace, they were familiar. “Anxiety” was ready to pop the champagne, asking where I’ve been, and “fear” was picking out the best party soundtrack. So I had to ask myself: Should I go back to my old friends? Or should I remain curious about “peace” and explore that instead? I know that I’ll will mess up and I will still have to share some meals with anxiety and fear, but I’m willing to try and get to know peace better. What will you choose?
I recently read a quote that went something like this; know when to have the courage to hold on and the strength to let go.
I haven’t been able to find the quote but I’ve thought about it quite a bit. I have been in my relationship for almost 10 years and my career for seven. They both have had their highs and lows as life often gives you both. When I started my teaching career and often had less than 10 people in class, I had to trust and allow it to unfold without giving up even thought I made less than $20,000 my first year.
I needed the strength to hold on. When my relationship was at a low as we were both trying to build our careers and were running on empty, I needed the courage to hold on. In both of these situations, I knew the story was not yet over. My career was just starting and as tough and competitive as teaching yoga in Los Angeles can be, it was what my heart desired most. Likewise, as I had spent the previous years building a strong foundation in my relationship, I had to trust that it was enough as I switched my focus to developing the same foundation in my career. Life is often a juggling act. It’s tough to hold on when you have days or at times weeks when you just want to say it “fuck this” and buy a one-way ticket out or just keep driving.
To me, this is when “foundation” comes into play. This is what we strive for on and off the mat. The will to hold on because you didn’t come this far to only comer this far. To remember that you’re building a strong foundation and that takes time. To remember that this is temporary and the work done now will give you the freedom later. In any case, you need to know why you’re doing any of this. You need to hold on to that why and choose your courage so you can reach your potential and not say “fuck it.”
On the flip side, to have the strength let go of something that you know has run its course isn’t easy either. If we’re being honest with ourselves, this often happens in friendships, romantic relationships and careers. Who we were than is not who we are now. Either the energy doesn't flow with ease (making us feel stuck, trapped, anxious, and angry), or it becomes evident that this chapter of our life is over. We often lie to ourselves a bit longer; it takes time to figure out that a transition is necessary in order for us to continue growing as human beings. It’s tough to accept when a relationship has run it’s course. It’s tough to accept when your career no longer inspires you or fits who you are today. The strength and the trust has to be there to move on to the next chapter of your life.
So I ask: If you look at yourself right now, what part of your life requires you to have the courage to hold on? To patiently wait a little longer? To give yourself a chance you deserve to reach your potential? What part of your life requires you to have the strength to let go? You can lie to others but be honest with yourself? Have any aspects of your life run their course? Are you just holding on due to your comfort zone? You get one shot at life. Give yourself a chance.