The Courage to Begin Again
I know I’m in the company of millions when I say my life has been turned upside down.
Things are uncertain. My anxiety has reached unprecedented levels and my emotions are all over the map — from gratitude for my health and understanding the value of what truly matters in life, to fear and anxiety over the uncertain weeks to come.
Two weeks ago, I knew the cornavirus was serious, but I was still going about my day normally: teaching all my classes, hopeful my boyfriend and I would be on a beach in Mexico on our retreat mid-April.
Then, that Friday (Friday the 13th, no less) everything changed.
My place of work closed. My boyfriend’s school district closed. Everything around me began to shut down. Including me.
The closing of fitness facilities opened the floodgates for online and virtual workouts. I watched as my fellow instructors and teachers rallied their resources for virtual classes.
My head was filled with stories of “I should be doing….” There was the inward pressure to create something for my community. But, the more I tried to force the creative process — be a blog or a workout — nothing came out. I felt empty, lost and overwhelmed.
We’re all at a standstill, wondering if our lives will ever return to normal — wondering if this is the new normal. And the hardest thing about this for most of us, especially for me, is that all of this is outside of our control.
As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder for close to 15 years (and who, ironically enough, just started seeing someone to deal with her body dysmorphia), when things are most outside of my control is when I look to the things I can control: my body — what I eat (or don’t eat) and how much I exercise.
Knowing this doesn’t stop the downward spiral when I feel like I haven’t exercised enough. Knowing this doesn’t prevent me from body checking, irrationalizing the situation or self-loathing.
It’s been a lot of ups and downs over the last two weeks, but what this experience is really teaching me and what I think it’s here to teach us all in its own way is that the path is the practice.
The path is the practice.
Every time you were on your mat, uncertain of how long we’d hold boat pose — you were training for this.
Each time your muscles quaked and exhaustion set in and I’d ask you to give yourself one more chance to put whatever you had on the line, and you did — you were training for this.
The moment you allowed yourself to go beyond what’s comfortable, you discovered what was possible — you realized you could, in fact, do hard things — you were training for this.
And now the practice continues. Off the mat. Away from the studio. In the small moments of your day…at home.
The practice isn’t about how much work you get done today, or if you do anything other than breathe. The practice isn’t about how many calories you burned or if you ate a box of Girl Scout cookies. This is not how we measure our practice.
The practice is about learning that we will fall out and it’s about learning how to get back in.
The practice is about leaning into your emotions — yes, all the uncomfortable ones — and learning to breathe through them into a space where you can hold the utmost compassion for yourself, knowing you are doing the best you can with what you have, and that, my friend, is enough.
The practice is about recognizing that there will always be things outside of your control and in this particular and surreal situation, there’s a shit ton we can’t do anything about.
Some days we’ll understand the practice and we’ll hug our loved ones tighter and feel immense gratitude for our health. Other days, our stomach will be tied in knots and we’ll wake in the middle of the night, unable to fall back asleep.
But, the heart of the real practice isn’t in what we do or don’t do. It’s about learning to begin and to begin again.
In your most challenging moments, you must have the courage to begin again.
For me, it’s easy to fall into the trap of not-enoughness — to measure my day and self worth based on what I did or didn’t do or even what I think I look like.
Instead, today, I’m reminding myself to begin again. To let go of what I “should have” done last week and just to listen to what I need right now.
With the extra time I have at home, I’ve begun work on my book, a collection of the stories I tell in my yoga classes couple with reflective questions, themes and thoughtful activities. It’s a project I’ve been passionate about getting out into the world for a while now, but something I’ve continually told myself I didn’t have time to do.
I’m also learning to lean into new ways of moving my body with more outdoor runs and walks and more yoga. I’m learning to do less planning and more being. Most days, it feels really, really good.
I’m slowly learning to breathe again — to unfold, explore and reconnect to what my soul needs most.
This moment in time affords us an amazing opportunity, within the surreal and uncharted territory, to do some deep, reflective excavating:
With so much of our external life on hold, what are you learning is most essential? What are the things that nourish your soul?
It’s easy to do something because we feel like we “should”, but what does it feel like to do something your soul craves?
I’m not suggesting to not take the Zoom classes or eat healthy or not wash your hands. Certainty, do all of those things (especially the hand washing). But also know that in doing those things, there is nothing you are required to do.
It’s OK to not be productive, to have the cookie, to cry — to not do all the things.
This week, take a moment to ask what your soul really needs and have the courage to begin again.
Sending each and every one of you a virtual hug,
PS: I’m in the process of creating a YouTube channel where I’ll post exercises and short workouts you can do from home with minimal equipment. Click HERE to subscribe to the channel.
Curious about what equipment is best to have? I recommend a heavy set of weights (something that will challenge your lower body — anywhere from 8lbs upwards) or even two set of heavier weights. In addition, lighter weights (3lbs and 5lbs) are great for fine tuning muscles. Finally, my go to tools that travel well anywhere are the Spri red sponge ball and Power Systems versa loops. You don’t need all these tools by any means. You can always use your own body weight if that is what works best for you.