I wasn’t born with a great sense of direction.
Actually – and to be completely honest – GPS is basically the best thing that ever happened to me. I rely on it WAY more than your average 35-year-old driver, even when I technically know where I’m going BUT I’m not 100% sure I know the best way to get there.
So as you might imagine, I had a really hard time when we moved 9.6 miles from Oakhurst, NJ to Rumson, NJ.
I’d spent years driving the same roads to the same places. I could get from my house to my yoga classes with barely any trouble (as long as there was no road work, accidents, or major traffic pattern changes).
Then BOOM – new house. New town. New patterns for getting to all the places I needed to go.
Thank God, the universe, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin for Google maps.
We moved in June 2017.
I used GPS to get from my house in Rumson to Evenflow Yoga in Red Bank (5.7 miles) for about 4 months before I felt solidly centered and confident in the 6 turns I needed to make to get there.
When I attempted the drive on my own for the first time, I was legit impressed with myself. Day 2 wasn’t much different in terms of my personal pride. I could DO this!
Then slowly but surely, over the next few days and weeks, the ride became routine. I started driving on auto-pilot once again, barely noticing the world around me.
I functioned like that up until last week, when a man walking his humungous furry dog caught my attention right as I made a left toward Broad Street. I realized immediately that they were the first “new” thing I’d noticed in months. My 13 minutes in the car had become utterly, mundanely habitual. I was stuck so deeply in a groove that I’d stopped seeing the world around me COMPLETELY.
If you are thinking – WOW, this girl is heavily overthinking her drive to the yoga studio…
You are probably right.
But humor me for a moment.
My ride is symbolic of something we all tend to do in so many different areas of life: repeating the same patterns over and over again, like broken records destined to play nothing but one tune.
Now I totally get that driving the same way every single day isn’t necessarily a bad pattern to get stuck in, but doing it a little differently would absolutely be a healthy challenge for my brain.
And my yoga practice has taught me enough to know that a subtle change in my daily doings will motivate me to break a few other patterns too – or, at the very least, become significantly more aware of them.
The Sanskrit word “Samskara” comes up whenever yogis contemplate their stuck-ness and explore how to get unstuck. Some of the loose translations of Samskara include “mental impression,” “psychological imprint,” “recollection” and “activator.”
Each of these definitions relates to a deep conditioning that, in part, is caused by past actions and, in part, is responsible for future actions.
Samskara is evident as a cycle of habitual thoughts, actions and experiences that often feel like fated repetitions. When we feel stuck, it is often due to samskara. Obsessions and compulsions have their root in the samskara of past conditioning. – Bihar School of Yoga
Our yoga practice offers us daily opportunities to transform – to take what was always “the way” and try something new, which just might lead us towards the best version of ourselves.
And even if the shifts we choose don’t completely change the game (like driving from my house to the studio, for example) they do help us to expand our consciousness, break through past conditioning, and unwind the knots that bind our minds on SO many levels.
If you are sitting on the edge of your seat to know what I did about getting to yoga on Sunday morning, let me put your mind at ease.
I drove through Little Silver, added two minutes to my normal 13 minute “commute”, and patted myself on the back for practicing what I preach (Kidding, but sort of not kidding).
From there, I asked myself what else I could release, reconnect to, rethink, reimagine, re-engage, and reinvent. I challenged myself to be a human BEING, rather than just a human doing.
And you want to know the best part? It’s that simple. Notice the pattern, decide to change it, and make the shift.
From there, you receive the priceless gift of possibility.
Bridget Riepl is a mom, a yoga teacher, a former lawyer, a writer, a moderately decent cook, a really good baker, a seeker of fantastic coffee and a firm believer in the power of positive thinking. Bridget became all those things around the same time and credits the whole “former lawyer” thing as the impetus for most of the fun stuff she gets to do on a daily basis now. That, and her husband Joe’s complete willingness to support her spontaneity with a smile. Bridget was born and raised in New Jersey and cannot imagine calling anywhere else “home.” She loves the entire NJ yoga community with lioness-like ferocity and cannot wait to show the world just what NJ yogis are up to – because it is crazy amazing stuff.
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