This is a love note to all of us (and yes I do more us) who have faced sleepless nights, poor food choices, feelings of heaviness, moments of overwhelming and extreme busyness, disconnect from those we love, and the incredible pressures of LIFE.
Those were my demons for many years. I knew they were there, but I couldn’t identify them, or where they came from. Most days were spent in a state of “what is the (my) problem?!”
Until I discovered the missing link in my daily chaos – which was, sadly, ME. I wasn’t listening for grace and I certainly hadn’t discovered any meaning in stillness. I wasn’t fully realizing that life and the way we choose to live is both a personal responsibility and a commitment.
We all have trouble spots in life. Behaviors that are unproductive, habits that do not nourish our hearts, minds, bodies and souls, and a knowing of what we need to change, without taking any action to make it happen.
In yoga, we call these trouble spots “Samskaras.”
The word samskara comes from the Sanskrit sam (complete or joined together) and kara (action, cause, or doing). In addition to being generalized patterns, samskaras are individual impressions, ideas, or actions; taken together, our samskaras make up our conditioning. Repeating samskaras reinforces them, creating a groove that is difficult to resist. Samskaras can be positive—imagine the selfless acts of Mother Theresa. They can also be negative, as in the self-lacerating mental patterns that underlie low self-esteem and self-destructive relationships. The negative samskaras are what hinder our positive evolution.
My mantra for years was “I can do this” – with a heavy emphasis on the DO. I overstuffed my calendar every single day, saying “yes, yes, yes” to anyone and anything that came my way. NO matter what, I was “fine” and “good” to handle all demands – or at least that’s what I told people. The reality was, I was losing myself and my friendships completely. I didn’t go on vacations, I powered through 80 hour work weeks; I even I kept up my “I can do this” mantra through the death of a parent.
And where did I end up? Sick and tired, with a calendar full of parties, a glass full of vodka, and a purse full of cigarettes. I had reservations at all the best restaurants but I absolutely wasn’t eating enough. My “friends” were along for the party, but far from present when shit hit the fan, as it always does.
And yes, my marriage failed too. I responded by, yet again, gorging myself on busyness.
So what happened? How did it stop?
I wish I could tell you it was one big moment of truth and transformation. In reality, it took time, effort, awareness, care, concern, forgiveness, and a commitment to doing less – which allowed me to do BETTER. Now I believe that a full life is the greatest artwork a person can ever create. But how do you get there?
I think you have to start by asking yourself a few questions: How much are you willing to lose, to change or to give up?
Let’s be real. We’d all like to believe in an unfettered, uncompromised, and untarnished connection to SELF and the divine, regardless of how we live. But we know that isn’t the truth. The life we live – meaning how we choose to live it – IS our connection and needs to be taken care of and nurtured.
As I grow (and yes, get older), it’s yoga that brings understanding and a pathway towards feeling complete.
Yoga gave me enough space to see I didn’t need to do more. That the “more” didn’t equal greater value in any aspect of my life. If anything, I lost myself in the hustle. Yoga taught me to pause. To breathe. To be.
We are each built to experience the divine. Faith is the first spark; it gives us enough, I hope, to pursue asana, meditation, mantra, and chanting with the consistency and intention needed to experience divine grace. Perhaps “God” is a worn away word for you – no worries. We don’t need to name what we discover. Yoga can be a deep, sacred and an unending dive into the divine, or a simple means for maintaining sanity on the days when the crushing divisiveness of the world sets in.
Yoga isn’t unicorns and rainbows (at least not all the time). It’s a mirror for the Self and an acknowledgment of the light and dark within us all. It’s a knowing that we are meant to “be” not just “do”.
Ultimately it is for YOU to decide how you want to live.
But let me recommend a conscious decision to want a life filled with meaning. It’s worth it.
Through fortuitous events, Jennifer stepped into her first yoga class on the lower east side of NYC at Bhava Community Center more than 10 yrs ago, and fell in love with the sweaty and energetic vibe. Not her mother’s yoga or her classical ballet background, she realized it was something so much more… Classes are an offering of healing, laughter, playfulness, fun and adventure colliding with mindful alignment, dynamic sequencing, breath-work and yogic philosophy.
Ever grateful, Jennifer has completed almost 1,000 hours of training with Laughing Lotus in NYC under the direction of Dana Flynn and the sweet guidance of Sheri Celentano, certifying her at the ERYT 200-hour level with Yoga Alliance. Further, she apprenticed for almost one year with Sheri Celentano specializing in assists, and observing techniques for teaching basics level Vinyasa. Jennifer has completed additional Level 1 training with Baron Baptiste, as well as the brilliant Tari Prinster specializing in yoga for Women Cancer Survivors.
She is the manager/owner of Inlet Yoga and co-lead for Inlet’s 200hr RY
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