Sunday, August 09, 2009
During Bikram Yoga classes I learned an important lesson about life. I learned the more we immerse ourselves in the flow of life, the more at peace we are with life. Whenever I find myself struggling to get into a pose, or hold a pose in class, I become stressed out, anxious, and typically just fall apart on the yoga mat. As a result, I become frustrated and my mind is flooded with thoughts such as, "Why can't I do this?" "What is my problem today?" "Why is this so hard?"
When I let go of expectations and just completely relax my body, the poses come easily to me. Forcing poses only causes my body to be stressed out, which makes the poses harder. While staring into the mirror I also empty my mind of any thoughts. What I have noticed is that any self-talk, especially negative self-talk, clutters my mind and prevents me from being fully present with my breath and completely in my body.
As a former competitive runner, I was used to aggressively forcing results. I was always trying to run faster, push myself farther, and ultimately beat the person ahead of me. Yoga taught me that life isn't always about exerting brute force to get ahead in life. On my yoga mat I have learned to completely immerse myself in the flow of life instead of trying to always force life.
A friend once remarked that trying to force life is like paddling upstream. Imagine taking a canoe trip and spending the whole time paddling upstream. Think about how exhausted you would be after a short period of time. Unfortunately most of us spend our whole lives wearing ourselves out by trying to move upstream instead of easily floating downstream with the natural current of life.
The more we force life, the more stressed we become. When we relax into life, all of a sudden our life is easy, effortless, and peaceful. What does it mean to be in the flow of life? It means accepting what is, instead of rebelling against what isn't. For example, people experience road rage when they don't accept the fact that as a result of traffic, their car isn't moving along at the speed they would like. Yes, traffic can definitely cause stress, especially when we are trying to get somewhere on time. Can we change the fact there is traffic? Nope! Becoming angry, honking our horns, and shouting profanities will not do anything to help move the traffic along. All these things will do is cause stress for ourselves and others, and prevent us from living in the flow of life.
When I find myself stuck in traffic I simply accept what is (usually a long line of cars not moving ahead of me) and tell myself I will eventually get to where I need to be. I may focus on my breath, make a phone call, or gaze out at nature. I make peace with the moment instead of allowing my emotions to rise up and dictate my state of mind.
The next time you find yourself stressed out, ask yourself if you are fully immersed in the flow of life. Are you trying to foce life? Are you rebelling agains the current state? Are you refusing to accept what is? Are you trying too hard for something that isn't meant to be?
Colleen Canney is a Career, Life, and Wellness Coach based in Seattle, WA. She coaches clients around the US. To schedule a FREE consultation, please contact Colleen at email@example.com or visit her website at www.colleencanney.com.