HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!! WOW, 2020, can you believe it? Just typing it out is weird to me. 2010 does not seem like it was 10 years ago, but then I truly reflected on the last 10 years, and I have to say, I was impressed! I have come a hell of a way. I know you all have to!
As a Wellness Coach & Yoga Therapist (which is truly lifestyle coaching), New Year’s resolutions always make my skin crawl a bit. I see the gyms get packed for two months, then 80% of the people stop showing up. I see posts on social media about “wanting to be this, or that” and it makes me feel sad that resolutions are based on such shallow, vapid goals. Look, I am ALL for getting healthy, whether that means: losing weight, gaining muscle, giving up sugar, hiking Mt. Everest, you get the picture….BUT, if goals are not grounded in virtue, then they are more likely to bottom out. In the first session with every client that I work with, we talk about intention setting. Intentions are a journey that you take yourself on to achieve something your heart & soul desire. It is a message to guide your daily actions and efforts towards. Intentions are rooted in virtue and positive growth and if you would like a full run down on intention setting, see my post from last year! Today, I want to talk about self-acceptance & self-admiration. I encourage everyone to set powerful intentions, and review them weekly, monthly, or daily. Today, however, I want to focus more on acceptance, and less on improvement.
For the first time IN MY ENTIRE LIFE, I understand what living in peace means. I never really understood peace. My brain was a mile a minute. I was anxious, then depressed, then tired, then energetic, then depressed again, then resentful (“woe is me, why me, waaaa waaa waaa.”). I was always worried, always waiting, always wondering how I was going to make it to the next week. In 2014, for example, I was thinking about death a lot. I fantasized about getting hit head on while driving my car. I was numb and I didn’t want to live. My body was perpetually inflamed and heavy and my brain screamed at me all day. I was so out of touch with my higher self.
ENTER YOGA INTO MY LIFE. In 2015 I started attending regular yoga classes on a Groupon. I could barely workout anymore due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and distal extremity pain. Something about the messages in the yoga classes woke something up inside of me. “Just breathe and let everything else go.” “You matter, even if you just lay here in child’s pose.” “Accept where you are right now.”
These are phrases I never heard. I was used to a psychiatrist telling me to try to continue exercising and maybe increase to two workouts a day, take more and more pharmaceutical drugs and accept my fate that I have a mental illness. In fact, he suggested I take Ritalin (an amphetamine) to help with the tiredness (great idea to give an anxious person a stimulant). Yoga was the opposite message in every way. What yoga taught me was that suffering begins when we attach to things, become aversive to things, when we become out of touch with our highest self, and when our minds, bodies, and spirits are disconnected. In October of 2015 I rode the metro home from work for the first time with no fatigue. I cried the whole metro ride home upon realizing that my legs were not aching and my body did not feel like it had 300 pounds of lead inside of it. It was that sudden. Thanks, yoga.
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” – B.K.S. Iyengar
The changes in my mind-body were so evident, that I quit my job and moved to Pennsylvania to train to become a yoga therapist. It was a huge risk. I didn’t know what would come of it. But I became SOOO passionate helping others in my anxiety group at the time. I knew it was my fate.
The past ten years have been challenging, extremely challenging. I was served the same lesson over and over again, from 2014 to 2018, and had to work really REALLY hard to overcome it. Therapists, reiki masters, cranial sacral therapists, cognitive behavioral therapists, studying, mediating and mediating and nourishing my whole self. When I give credit to yoga being my ultimate healing mechanism, I don’t want you to think that I mean just going to yoga classes. You see, yoga is an entire lifestyle approach. There are eight limbs to yoga and you have to work them all to really see these benefits. This means doing constant work on myself. Trying to understand my belief systems, banish negative self talk, and re-write my entire narrative. That is yoga, not just forward folding and downwarddogging.
The past 10 years have also been very wonderful. In 2016, I moved to Philadelphia to begin yoga therapy school and moved in with my then boyfriend, now husband. We rescued my bestest pal and yoga dog, Timber. In 2017, I got engaged on a pristine beach in Puerto Rico. In 2018, I got married to the man of my dreams and we bought our first home together. In 2019, I graduated from three years of Yoga Therapy school and became an International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) certified Yoga Therapist! I also began working at Exhale Studios and found a new home for my Yoga Therapy practice. I said goodbye to my grandmother, beloved client, and my nephew was born. It has been a phenomenal decade, mixed with challenge and heartbreak, as well as miracles and accomplishments. I am so grateful.
Here I am, 2020. I am living in PEACE! I am working steadily towards my goal of growing my Yoga Therapy business and helping others, and am empowering teens to find their higher selves (which is a DREAM). I am off all psychiatric medications for the first time since I was eight years old and I am in love with my life. I still live with some of the fear that I have worked on removing, that one day my biology will change and I will feel deeply depressed or terribly anxious again. Until and unless that day comes, I use the tools that I have found and built and I take really good care of myself. I am so proud of myself and I am so overwhelmed with the amount of love, joy, and peace in my life.
This year, instead of focusing on what you can do more of, and be more of, look back over those last 10 years, and admire yourself a little (or a lot). Reflect year- by-year and notice how far you have come. This is a gift you can give yourself. Admiration for the human you have always been and the human you have become over the last decade. After you’ve done this, make a list of one thing you loved about each year or one thing you were/are truly grateful for. Can you find peace with where you are today? If not, ask yourself, “what is my soul yearning for?” Try asking yourself this while in a bath or walking in the woods. Ask the question when you are having some alone time and it is quiet, so that you can really hear the answer.
I mentioned that yoga connects you to your highest self. It does this by stilling the waves of the mind, so that your soul can shine through. When people are overworked and undernourished, they cannot possibly connect to their higher self, it is being silenced by their ego and their fears and their desire to own up to something. This is why creating space in your life FOR YOURSELF is absolutely necessary. It is not unrealistic or impossible. It could be a walk outside each day, just focusing on the trees and the noises of the birds, or a long restorative bath, or maybe curling up with a journal by the fire. Taking time to slow down, connect to your breath, and just notice the present moment is so simple, but so so powerful.
“You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.” – Sharon Gannon
So my question for you is this: When you look back over the last 10 years, can you find acceptance and peace for where you are now (even if it is not rainbows and butterflies)?
If the answer is yes, keep doing you! Keep appreciating yourself and finding ways to fill your soul.
If you answered no, keep appreciating yourself and start to become curious about what could fill your soul. You can do this by journaling, meditating, or simply reflecting on what you could use more/less of in your life.
“Yoga is a dance between control and surrender – between pushing and letting go – and when to push and when to let go becomes part of the creative process, part of the open-ended exploration of your being.” – Joel Kramer
Life is a journey. I believe that all of us who are working at becoming closest to our highest selves are doing warrior training every day. Anyone who is recovering from anything is constantly working on themselves, and this is what I call warrior training. We are training ourselves to be spiritual warriors, unaffected by change, unattached to outcomes, and accepting of ourselves exactly as we are.
Will you begin your warrior training in 2020? Maybe you have been on the path all along!
My teens “Yoga for Anxiety” workshop begins January 9th at Exhale Studios in Stone Ridge, VA. Visit the app to sign up or book a private yoga therapy session with yours truly!
Thank you for reading & I wish you all the most joyous & accepting year yet. May you find peace in your mind, body & soul.
With love & light,