When I was a newer yoga teacher, I was overly conscious of what students might think if I was seen outside of the studio drinking or eating something that was perceived as unhealthy. Over time, thankfully, I lost the sense of caring about that kind of thing and realized that it’s more important to just be myself, whatever that might look like. But there are other times in my day to day life that I feel a disconnect between what I want for myself in terms of behaviors and what’s happening in the moment. Like now for instance.. I’ve been working all day and I haven’t spent any real quality time with my dog since I’ve been home. She’s already sleeping on the bed next to me, having given up on getting any quality attention tonight. It’s not what I wanted for tonight, but it’s the way things turned out.
Then, there are the times I drive my car. I don’t drive all that often these days and when I do, it only takes a few minutes before I feel my blood boiling and my stress level rising. What is it about driving that pushes my buttons?
Then, there are reactions to people around me. For instance today, as I sat at Au Bon Pain, a family surrounded me and quickly took over both tables around the chair where I was sitting. Talking loudly, it got to the point where I had to get up and move myself to another seat. Instead of letting it go, I let it continue to bother me; why were they so obnoxious? But the whole time I was focusing on them, I was ruining time I should have been using to be relaxing and reading my magazine.
The biggest challenge is finding time and making time for yoga and meditation. It’s one of the hardest things for me to do. I somehow thought after I left my corporate job and started my own yoga company, it’d be easy. I mean, it’s my livelihood, so why wouldn’t I be able to start my day with yoga and throw in some meditation as well?
When I started practicing yoga, I never expected to increase my awareness and desire around wanting to feel calm, peaceful and compassionate towards others and myself. It was just something that slowly happened over time. But the funny thing is even though I might want to embody some of those traits, it doesn’t mean I actually do embody any of those qualities consistently. I might have them for a fleeting moment and maybe some days, I’m lucky and they stick around a little longer but honestly, it’s one of the hardest things to do. I guess that’s what makes us human; the idea that we can intellectually know something but to actually put it into action is a different thing.
I see this a lot in the idea of setting intentions around exercise. Whether it’s yoga, running, going to the gym or any other exercise regimen, many of us set an intention every day that we then realize later we didn’t honor it. I face that same scenario every day; do I work on that project or work out? Do I sit at my desk and plow through emails or do I do some yoga? Do I take five minutes before diving into my day and meditate?
I believe that’s what makes us human; we can know something in our brains but in order to really make it happen, we have to stay committed. We have to take an intention and put action behind it. Some days it works and some days it doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean we’re a hypocrite. It just means we see it but for whatever reason, we’ve made a choice to avoid it. Once you turn the bright light of awareness onto certain behaviors, it’s hard to go back to ignoring them.
So if you find yourself straying off course, just remember this: if you know where you’d like your heart to be, that’s the first step. Be compassionate and try again.