It's February - the midst of winter in Toronto. New Year's resolutions? How are they coming along?
Not so much, don't sweat it - most people falter and create unrealistic goals for themselves too.
Reality check - maybe you were seeking change in January - maybe it was a change in healthy
lifestyle habits, maybe they were better exercise regimens, maybe it was a new job...
Perhaps we place too much on our plates all at once - how do we focus on simply one task at a time? So, it's a little difficult to sit here, be present, quiet the mind - simply take a meditative seat? Well, these artful practices can be incorporated into your daily life so you won't even have to buy more products, spend more energy, or become confused at never feeling good enough.
The simple regimen, where less is more:
- taking on less stressful and time-sensitive deadlines
- prioritizing what you can get done in a week
- allowing yourself to focus on tasks at hand without being barred by social media, digital distractions
- taking rest days and mix up your exercise routine (i.e. HIIT, yoga, sports, walking, swimming)
- less sodium
- less processed foods
- less caffeine
- less refined sugar
- less fast food
- not having to prove your self-worth
- summarizing what it is that you stand for, every day
- journalling, writing important thoughts, tasks, and emotions down as opposed to wasting energy ramble
What can you do more of?
- drink more water
- take more naps
- write more letters of gratitude - either to yourself or to others that you regularly interact with
- eat more fresh veggies
- take more mindful walks
- stretch (using therabands, mobility balls, foam rollers, tune up balls)
- spend more time doing charitable work and volunteering your time to support an organization
Which brings me now to a second important note:
Showing up to your mat
(whether for a sweaty asana practice or for a few minutes of meditative mindfulness), is the bare minimum when we say less is more. When done regularly, this habitual practice creates effective persistence and duration, which can create a healthier mindset in the long-run that is easily translatable on and off the mat, in real life situations.
So the first part of the practice is:
- scheduling your first class of the month
- just showing up
- being on time, if not allowing yourself a big buffer time to make it to your mat (so you don't feel flustered and can settle with ease onto your mat)
Secondly, the most marked lesson I can still lay my eyes on is the practice of *patience*
So much patience - everyday is a growing phenomenon in this world full of different conditions, situations, emotional turmoil. Basically if you cannot predict how the people around you are going to react, how on Earth will you be able to pre-conceive how your own body and mind will even feel the next day? Living presently allows you to assess all that is happening without having to overthink or press ideas or expectations of how your body should move.
Basically, the goal is to.. Move it. Forget about the how, why, how much. Just a little bit of attention and effort is insinuated on the action: Movement is better than stagnancy.
Once, you've shown up and have committed to making that first step to being on time and being present on your mat, the next lesson is DURATION.
Whether you have days where you lie completely on your back in savasana, or sit upright and meditate. Whether your practice is full of active asanas, and a sweaty flow, or perhaps a long-extended yin practice - no progress occurs overnight. There will be days when your attitude shows no differently that you don't want to put the effort in, where your physical energy is low, where your mind is completely emotionally flustered and unsettled. And your only option here to stay committed? Simply continue showing up. Whether it's 10 minutes or a conventional 60-75 minute practice. Making a habitual life-long commitment to the practice will allow you to reach new life lessons and "Aha!" moments when you least expect them over the longer course of time.
I've heard the frequent "I'll wait until my injuries heal, I'll wait until I become more flexible..." is setting yourself to avoid the act of showing up from the amateur but yet interested yogi.
I mean, all you have to do, is show up. In the end, it's not about the $60 workshop you pay for, the $100 yoga pants you stretch in, or the $10 green juices that you consume following class.
It is the simple practice of mindfully giving back to yourself, and that little bit of effort of just showing up will increase twentyfold in the greatest journey of spiritual and physical maturity.