Nobody’s life is a static, well-paced journey, despite how many plans we make, how many goals we set, and how well intentioned we are. No, life is messy and serves up surprises every day.
The world's a roller coaster and we aren't strapped in. Maybe we should hold with care, but our hands are busy in the air. This line from alternative rock band Incubus’ iconic song 'Wish You Were Here' sums up how many of us feel on a day-to-day basis. Flying along by the seat of our pants— navigating the challenges we encounter along the way.
When I was little, my sister and I came up with this game that we would play whenever we would go to the ocean (once a year). We would be so excited to get our feet in the sand and our toes wet that we couldn’t wait to put on a bathing suit. Fresh from a 12-hour car ride, we’d run down to the beach, still in our clothes, roll up our shorts even shorter and feel the waves crashing on our feet. Then, we would challenge each other by declaring in delight “Step farther!” and each of us would have to take a giant step forward into the ocean. Whoever chickened out first because they were afraid to get waved on lost. We would giggle and scream and then start all over again to see how far we could get into the ocean without getting scared.
The Yoga Sutras say that our movements should be steady and sweet – and they’re right. But that doesn’t make it easy.
If we are concerned with self-improvement or cultivating physical disciplines, we can be quite hard on ourselves, especially when things aren’t going as well as we’ve hoped or planned. Off the mat, there are sure to be times we disappoint ourselves, failing to live up to some ideal expectations. Instead of chastising or punishing yourself, or suppressing behaviours that you think are beneath you, can you instead be kind to whatever it is inside of you that is calling out for help? Can your kindness be unconditional? When your thoughts dive into dark places, instead of wishing you were feeling something else, can you listen, befriend yourself, and see what you may need to feel better?