‘We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise, we harden’ – Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe
The nature of all life is to change. To grow; to evolve, expand, flourish, slowly devolve -and then renew. Without the capacity to embrace change and newness as it arises, it’s easy to become stuck and stagnant – in habits, in ways of thinking, even in your physical body (think indigestion, heaviness and fatigue).
Softening into this aspect of ourselves is not always easy however – especially as we’ve been conditioned to believe that any deviation from growth, expansion and stability is weak or lacking in tenacity.
By putting pressure on ourselves to always maintain a certain facade, way of being, looking or feeling, we are automatically resisting this natural order of things and our bodies to evolve and change. .
The process of ‘healing’ from any kind of life event, illness or circumstance (and on some level, I believe we are all healing from something) involves accepting ourselves in our totality – flaws, skills, talents, down days, up days and unique life experiences. This is of course a journey in itself, and something which shouldn’t be taken lightly.
But what happens next?
What happens when you’ve made peace with who you are, how you look, what you’re good at (and not so good at)? When you’ve done ‘the work’ (or at least some of it), and are impatient to get going and reaching that next stage of life?
It’s easy to get stuck in the cushy ‘self-love’ quotes and practices, online self-help sites and heart centered yoga classes to ‘build compassion’ – this is all great, and I’m here for all of it.
What I’ve found personally however, is that this kind of new-pattern forming can often just lead to another form of dependent, fixed mindset and relationship – albeit a healthier version.
To put this into perspective – take my relationship with yoga for example.
For a time – a very, very difficult, challenging and confusing time – yoga was my crutch. It was the thing I got out of bed for, the place where I felt the most at ease, the only place where I didn’t feel anxious, think about my body – how it looked or how much I’d eaten that day…it was the only place where I felt whole and at peace.
Gradually, as my mind healed, my body followed, and I felt stronger. In every sense of the word. I had more mental and emotional resilience to deal with challenges. I had the clarity I needed to see situations in their totality, and I had the self-respect to know when these situations were within my control to change, or beyond it.
In short, things improved.
And yet there was a part of me which still relied on the regularity of practice to be ok – if I hadn’t managed a full 90 minute session one morning, I’d berate myself for the rest of the day. If I skipped a meditation, or wasn’t quite fully ‘in it’, it rendered all my efforts worthless. If it wasn’t with a group of ‘yoga-people’ or spiritually minded friends or colleagues, it wasn’t worth the energy to engage socially.
Thus began the next stage of the journey – the integration. How to use the tools I’d learned and honed on the mat, to improve my life off of it? How to release the reliance on practice, without cutting out any aspects of life completely?
Developing a healthy relationship around my body, movement practices and eating habits has (as it is for so many of us) been crucial to this, as has the realisation that no one thing will be exactly what we need all of the time, forever.
I’ve come to realise that the difference lies between recognising when something supports or serves us during a certain period of our life, and also being ok when this relationship shifts slightly.
I still practice, I still meditate; I’m lucky enough to currently be staying again within 10 minutes drive of some of the most inspiring and knowledgable teachers I know here in Bali.
But I also know that just practice alone will not ‘save’ me, or help me to achieve all my goals and dreams.
In the same way that no one food, movement practice, relationship or location will always be exactly what we need to grow or feel nourished in that moment, confining ourselves to one way of thinking and viewing the world can have similarly debilitating effects.
To sum up:
Use what works, when it works, and be ok with finding new ways to support yourself as you evolve and heal.
I’m currently offering an 8-week course entitled ‘Nurture your Nature’, for those seeking to do some personal coaching work to heal mind, body & soul. This is a new venture for me and the beginning of a new chapter in what I offer and share with students & clients – so there is a ‘first-time’ pricing offer and limited space available.
If you feel this is something which might benefit or interest you, please get in touch to organise a free initial call to discuss where we could take it!