IS YOUR ENVIRONMENT FULFILLING YOUR NEEDS? In the summer of 2011, with $187 to my name, I bought a one-way plane ticket from Portland to Los Angeles. I always dreamed of living in LA and waking up to sunshine every day!
Last week, I half-jokingly texted my family saying I’m ready to buy a one-way ticket back to Portland! This is not because I feel defeated by Los Angeles. It’s just realizing that the city no longer meets my needs.
I have never lived in one place as long as I have lived in Los Angeles. This “belly of the beast” as I call it, is a wonderful, tough, and unpredictable son-of-a-bitch that will eat you up, spit you out, and then ask: how badly do you want this? You would have to live here to understand this city: a weekend bus tour does not count! But I’m grateful for this beautiful beast because in many ways it has been very good to me and shown me how strong I truly am.
What has kept me here is my career and the wonderful community I’ve built the past 9 years teaching yoga. I would like you to think about your environment. Is it meeting your needs?
EVERYTHING HAS ITS SEASON
As we grow up, it is our job to keep identifying our needs as circumstances change. To stay in the flow rather than create resistance to what is. To notice when our thoughts are drifting to the past, making us sad and depressed, or to the future, making us anxious. To remember that the gift is living in the present moment. And to do that, we must bring our awareness back to the breath.
When I was young, I loved walking from my West Hollywood apartment up Sunset to the Laugh Factory, the House of Blues, and often ending up at Pinches Tacos! Now I dream of having tea parties with my nieces, learning how to garden, and owning my own house. I dream of rain, clean air, and taking a break from the never-ending Los Angeles heat wave. Much like a relationship, what you first found attractive in the other person ends up driving you crazy in the long run!
Every morning I get up and look at Redfin. I find a house that could also be used as a yoga studio and acupuncture office for my partner. I look at what the down payment and mortgage would be and allow myself to dream. What would that life look like? I sit with the excitement of making the dream a reality; of having my own space and never working for a corporation again. Then I remember that the grass is greener where you water it, so I get up and focus on being of service to my community here. Enjoying the time we have left together, as I feel this 18-year season coming to an end.
A MOMENT OF CLARITY
This past Saturday I was teaching a 2 1/2 hour class called “Stretch and Invert.” As I was trying to get my students to slow down and stay with the beginning of the inversion rather than going to the end and kicking the shit out the wall, I had my epiphany. I might not be able to pronounce the word, but I clearly saw and understood how I approach life—the same way that my students approach their practice (which often drives me crazy)! I’m constantly trying to get them to start at the beginning of the pose, at the foundation. That without a strong foundation, your pose, your life, your relationships will always crumble and fall. To start at the beginning, connect the dots, and understand what it is you’re asking of your body upside down. To enjoy the journey and not just simply rush to the end of the pose.
When I step on my mat, my body and mind communicate beautifully. The mind understands that it is time to be quiet, and the ego knows that it’s time to take a nap and let me practice. In that quiet sanctuary, I get the opportunity to FEEL how I’m doing. I have a meeting with myself and see what is necessary to come back into balance.
Off my mat, I often live how my students practice. I skip ahead to the next chapter of my life, I don’t always believe in myself, and say, negative things like “I can’t do it”—without fully understanding what it is I’m trying to do in the first place! I forget to breathe, allowing my ego and thoughts to run my life. I don’t fully give myself a chance and forget to trust the seeds that I’m planting. I let my old friend ANXIETY and its best friend FEAR run the show! Does this sound familiar?
SEE THE GOOD IN YOUR LIFE
This season for me might be coming to an end. I believe if I were meant to continue living here, my needs and vision would be provided for. That doesn’t mean that I sit on my ass and a magical Unicorn will do the rest, but that life will do its part and meet me halfway. What I’ve learned is that for now, I need to enjoy the rest of my time here and remain present.
I finally live in the backyard of my dream house, and I’m lucky enough to have written this outside, surrounded by all my plants and listening to the sound of my fountain. Right now, I simply want to enjoy this place until our lease is up and continue being of service to my community. Nothing blooms year-round—so let’s trust the seeds we are planting.
As the year is quickly coming to an end, take time to pause and reflect. Have you identified your needs lately? Are you resisting anything that you know is coming to an end? Can you trust in the seeds that you’re planting and enjoy the space between no longer and not yet?