Again, I drew my inspiration from the book Meditations from the Mat this week. This book just has so much to teach me. I think I will continually be inspired even when reading passages for the third or fourth time. This week I focused on over coming obstacles and paired this theme with a heart opening class. The following passage is Day 88 from the chapter on the niyamas.
“Each step forward in our practice is a step inward. To practice yoga is to draw ever closer to the truth. As we learn to relax into our truth moment by moment, breath by breath, posture by posture, the need for pretense starts to fall away. We find that we are shedding the layers of armor we’ve created to protect the fake self we present to the world. But as the armor falls away, we are confronted by the old fears that created the armor in the first place and that have held it in position for so long.
Chances are we will be unaware of the moment when we shed a layer of armor. We may simply wake up one day to find that an old fear has reared its head, or that it seems harder to get to our mat, and harder still to attend to the other aspects of our practice. Suddenly, chocolate chip cookies and Haagen-Das are on the menu, gossip fills an hour of the day, an unhealthy relationship appears more attractive. At such times it’s important to understand that a resurgence of old behavior often accompanies growth. We see this in the stories of Jesus and the Buddha. Both men were beset by their demons even as they moved unerringly toward their dharma. And both were able to meet their challenges and move on. Their lives are universal examples of the human potential for growth. We all share this potential, and we awaken each time we practice. Confronting the fears we encounter along the way is an aspect of the practice itself. As the darkness of our fears is dispelled..our eyes are filled with the light of love, the love that is ever present beneath all our temporal, earthly loves.”
I felt a connection with this passage this week most likely because of the changes happening in my life. I recently took on being a yoga teacher and starting my own yoga business on top of a full time job, underestimating how much work it would be. Although I am making tons of progress and learning so much from it I still have those days of regression where I question myself and look towards old habits. I feel that these regressions are occurring as I make improvements and shed my layers of armor to become a better teacher, a better student, a better friend, a better family member, and a better person. My regressions usually include thoughts like “There are so many yoga teachers out there how am I going to make a difference and why bother trying?” and result in “I will just eat this little bit of gluten and it will be okay”. When I catch myself having these thoughts and am consciously aware of them as regressions, I am able to stop and really think about my decision and usually overcome the thought rather than succumbing to stomach pain and guilt or letting go of my dreams. Awareness is really the first step in being able to overcome these thoughts.
I am reminded every time I get to my mat why I keep pushing forward. There are so many excuses and doubts that could be holding me back but my practice brings the focus and decisiveness that I need. Those times when I really don’t want to practice, or I feel sad and exhausted, or all I want to eat is cake and donuts and gluten filled crap, those are the times I need my practice the most. I come back to my mat, back to my practice and most importantly back to my breath. It is in these moments where real progress can be made and huge obstacles can be overcome. So instead of curling up into a ball and giving up, I recognize the situation as a regression from growth. I get my thoughts together through focussing on my breath and my practice and I come out of it with even more strength to push forward. These regressions are not a sign of weakness unless you let them be.