A couple of posts back I mentioned how changing the way I drive–slowing down significantly–has caused pretty significant shifts in other aspects of my life. I talked about how slowing down has helped me to feel like I’m much more authentic as a yoga teacher; how deeply inconsistent it was for me to ask my students to be present, to slow down, to not get fixated on the past or future, and yet not be able to demonstrate such awareness in my life off of the mat.
After experiencing the greater sense of wholeness, of being at home in my own skin, that emerged from coming to terms with my integrity breach and finally doing what I was asking my students to do, I naturally felt motivated to continue on that path of deepening integrity and search for other changes I could implement in my life today to live in greater alignment with my values.
And you know how it works with this universe, right? You notice you are impatient and decide one day that you should develop patience. Do you walk through a doorway and suddenly have the patience of a saint? NAH. The universe sends you lots of experiences in which to practice your patience. You get stuck in traffic. Your child spills an entire pitcher of juice on the floor. Your colleague stubbornly refuses to try a more streamlined approach to completing a project even though you’ve done it before and managed to get it done more efficiently. Your spouse comes home from work tired, and sends misplaced frustration your way…
I suppose I asked for it. I wanted to live the yoga I was teaching, so the universe is giving me lots of chances to practice, right here in my daily life. Take what happened this evening, for example. I had forgotten that my regular sitter was out of town, and realized that I had no sitter coming just an hour and a half before my class started. I was a massive ball of stress, stomach in knots, adrenalin flooding my system. I tried subbing out the class, hoping that someone would see my email and take pity on me. There were no responses, so I called the studio manager, who gave me several phone numbers and encouraged me to relax but act quickly.
Three phone calls later, and still no one was available. I could feel the anxiety rising–no sub, so sitter–I was stuck. Luckily the roommate of one of my other sitters was available, and she made her way to our house as soon as she could.
I paced around until she got there, and believe me, I was grateful that she came…but now I was leaving the house just twenty minutes before my class would begin, and it was rush hour in Baltimore City.
When the sitter arrived and I got behind the wheel to drive to the studio I remembered that rushing doesn’t get me to my destination any sooner. I have had a chance the last few weeks to watch speeders rush ahead only to pull up right behind them and wait together at the same red light. So I vowed right then and there to not speed. To not think about when I was going to arrive, to not resent other drivers for getting in “the way.”
The ball of stress was very present in my belly and was threatening to eat me alive; although I knew that the studio manager would cover me for a few minutes until I arrived, I was fixated on all sorts of “what ifs.” It was all very uncomfortable, and I was nearly out of my mind with panic. But as I continued to drive slowly, determined to not add to the stress, something shifted. Something in me had the awareness to notice that when I let myself pay attention to my mind, I could feel the stress intensify. When I paid attention to my breath, I found myself relaxing.
All of a sudden I remembered that being stressed about this situation was a choice, and I could choose to slow down and reach for my more peaceful self. It occurred to me as I practiced round after round of deep breathing in the car ride to the studio that I was allowing the teachings of yoga to trickle into my real life challenges. They don’t exist in a vacuum. We need to apply them and practice them consistently if we are to experience any real and lasting benefit from them
It was a chance to walk my talk, to live in the way I’m asking my students to live: to be aware, to let go of the past and the future, to be patient, to be gentle with oneself. As I noticed a distracting thought, I remembered to breathe. When I was still a few blocks away from the studio stuck in traffic and the clock struck six, I didn’t allow my anxious self to admonish and belittle the rest of my self for being late.
It’s hard to pull the mind back from the brink of anxiety and impatience, but like with any practice it gets easier over time. Instead of being mad at the universe for presenting me with a situation riddled with stress, I could choose to look at my life from a bigger perspective and encourage a more spacious vision to emerge.
Yes! I did it. I slowed down, breathed, and accepted the fact that I would mostly likely arrive late. I felt immense gratitude for the manager who taught my students for ten minutes until I was able to reach them. I remembered to breathe deeply, and to trust that this evening was unfolding exactly as it should. Because I wasn’t in a huge rush, I arrived at the studio in a surprisingly calm frame of mind. I steadied myself as I entered the room and silently thanked the manager for helping my students in my absence. I was carrying my real life yoga into the yoga room, and it just felt right.
It all works out in the end, does it not?
Don’t waste your time worrying about uncontrollable circumstances–
Trust in this wide open universe.
Trust that this is all unfolding as it should.
Just breathe, friend, open your eyes–
This life waits for you right where you are.
This life waits for you to remember who you are.
Breathe, breathe, and breathe again.
All is well now.