It took me a very long time to rid my life of all the should’s and shouldn’ts that were running it and me. I actually didn’t even know that these artificial “rules” were what was creating my life. I thought I was 100% in control. And then I started practicing yoga every day and something miraculous started to happen.
I was in my early 30’s, and through the combination of a move to a new city and the start of my daily yoga practice, I had one of those seminal moments where I saw my life and everything that I believed about it and the principles I was living by with what I can only describe as new eyes.
As I practiced on my mat, I felt a sense of my own deep wisdom begin to grow in me as my body, breath and focus also strengthened. I started to listen to myself. Whereas before I was almost completely ruled by other people’s opinions, advice and approval – or disapproval, now, I was hearing and trusting my own guidance. It started simply with me starting to say no to activities or people that I didn’t really care to participate in or be around. I stopped going where the “cool” crowd went and engaging in what I suddenly began to see as self-harming behaviors just to fit in. I saw that I wasn’t limited to being what everyone else said I was or wasn’t. I gravitated instead to yogis, body workers, psychics, healers and light workers of all kinds. I went where there was kindness and compassion and I steered clear and gave myself permission to walk away from scenes where people were dishonest or cynical.
I realized that the job that I had, the relationship I was in, the car I drove the neighborhood and home that I owned, what I did with my free time – all if it was designed to fit a formula of what I “successful” life “should” look like and that I had not questioned any of it. When I had all the things and circumstances lined up perfectly and I wasn’t happy, that was a big red flag that something was amiss.
Ultimately my life practice began to be trusting myself instead, and choosing purposefully what I wanted to have and have happen in my life. I unplugged myself from the opinions of others, so that now I ask for and receive guidance from those I admire, respect and trust. But I don’t decide to do or not do something based on what “everyone will think or say.”
Guilt arises out of a sense that we have not done what we should have or that we done something that we shouldn’t. What I realized was that, as long as I am in integrity with what I say I stand for and how I want to be treated and treat others, then I do not have feelings of guilt about what I do or don’t do.
I now cultivate setting goals and habits for myself that give me what I want to experience in my life. I treat my life as a precious resource that is happening right now and not someday. My life is mine and it is my responsibility to put in it what I want and take out what I don’t – not anyone else’s. There are always going to be supporters and haters. Simply choosing to be who I want to be and knowing that at the end of the day I feel good about who I was for myself and those around me is my measure.
I recently came home from a yoga training with a clear knowing that I want to experience what it’s like to do something that my mind says is impossible. I want to know viscerally what it’s like to experience myself as miraculous, expanded and capable of greatness that goes beyond what my limited mind might like to tell me are my limits on a daily basis.
So I committed to running a marathon. I chose a marathon because I’m not a runner. I’m barely even a jogger. I get winded and can barely make it two miles without stopping and gasping for air or getting a cramp in my side. I know that it’s possible to run a marathon, I’ve cheered friends and family members on and seen all ages and body types finish the race. And, my mind tells me that I can’t do it. So I’m going to do it. And I chose a beautiful location, Honolulu Hawaii, and a race that has no qualifying time. So I can run my own race and finish when I finish feeling great.
I started running two weeks ago. And already the two miles that I run have gone from painful and filled with smuggling and mild panic, to pretty calm and comfortable. I can feel my muscles and my lungs getting stronger. And my thoughts are more at ease. I’ve noticed that my yoga practice is benefitting too. But most of all, what I’m loving is that I created this life experience for myself – no one told me that I should – and a few people have already told me that I shouldn’t. It’s real and tangible and measurable. I put on my running shoes every day. I know when I ran and how far I went and how I felt along the way. And I can now say “I’m a runner.” I created that.
Life is too short to live it trying to be someone else or live into someone else’s notion of a good life. Deep inside you, you know what you want to experience in this life and what you don’t. Life is too precious to be wasted for one breath, one moment, on anything that is not in alignment with who you really are. There is great courage in living a purposeful life. Go out and live it!