What do you have to be thankful for? This week, I have decided to theme my yoga classes around the concept of gratitude. It's really easy for us to get wrapped in wanting so much for ourselves that we forget what we DO have. I'm completely guilty of this. What brought me to this theme was my experience earlier today.
This morning I was on my way back from an interview. I'm currently in search of a part time job- around 20-25 hours max. With Kevin deploying soon, I'm anxious to fill my time. If I'm being completely honest, it's also a bit of a hit to my ego to work less, and in turn make less money. As a part time grad student and yoga instructor, a side job would compliment my schedule nicely. The position I was interviewed for starts at 30 hours, with hours soon to expand to 40. This definitely was not what I had in mind but as I said, my ego was involved and thus my focus was lost. As a backstory, last fall I left a full time job (a miserable one) but nonetheless, I drove myself to the ground trying to balance life with teaching yoga, grad school, and full time work. However, I have been so fixated on finding more work to the point that I considered spreading myself thin again. Being a student and part time worker was never where I imagined myself at 25, soon to be 26 years old. I thought of how maybe I could give up some yoga classes to make it work, maybe even drop my course load...
But I started to think...I wasn't being grateful for my current situation. I had this mindset that what I currently had in life wasn't good enough. I needed to work more, make more money, be more. Do you see the theme here? More, more, more. This "more" mindset required me to push everything that I love to the side.
Giving up some of my yoga classes? I get to connect and guide others to transform physically and mentally. This doesn't even feel like work.
Sacrificing my free time while also risking my performance in school? Right now I actually have the time to learn and benefit my future as a Nutritionist. Being able to focus on my future was a strong reason why I left my previous job. I wasn't productive doing both.
Comparing myself to my peers/colleagues and feeling self conscious for not working a 9-5? All of our paths are unique! How fortunate am I to have the resources and opportunity to pursue what I actually love?! It was almost an impossible thought to be able to find a studio who would hire me so soon and here I am, working for three!
Immediately I started to feel so much gratitude for my life at its current standpoint. I didn't need more. I had everything. My feelings of slight shame and anxiety shifted when I shifted my perspective. While it's okay to want more for ourselves, we have to learn to appreciate what we have right now in order to achieve happiness. Otherwise, happiness becomes this place we're always striving to be. It then becomes this unattainable "destination," rather than what it really is, a journey. More than likely, what you have today were among the things you only hoped for at one point.
As I have encouraged my students, list 3 things you have to be thankful for and I bet you'll end up with a list a lot longer than that.
In my last post, I talked about being mindful. For those of you who don't know, my fiance is a Rescue Swimmer in the Navy. With our first (and only- thank God) deployment together, mindfulness is essential. As stressful as wedding planning is, I'm trying to enjoy this time as it's truly the most consecutive time we have spent together in a long time... and it's only been 3 months. As far as 2017 goes, I believe we have 9 weeks left together.
I don't write this post for your pity or guilt, but really to share the reality. It's not just the 8 months of deployment that these men are away from their loved ones. They spend months and weeks on detachments. Detachments are usually training or work-ups to prepare for the deployment, and more time spent away on a boat or in another city. Could you imagine being away from your significant other for that amount of time? No texting, maybe monthly video chatting, and primarily communicating through email (daily, if you're lucky). I won't lie, it terrifies me thinking of it. With the way our world is, and the recent addition of our lovely president, how could I not be?
I write this post for those not in my situation or anything similar to it, to appreciate your loved one. Kiss and hug them a little harder. Cherish that moment in bed, right before your day starts, when you wake and see their face next to yours. Put your phone down. As Baron Baptiste states, "We are here or we are nowhere." So be here for you and your person.
Of course I knew that our relationship was bound to be deprived of complete normalcy, but you do anything for true love. My fiance is my best and truest friend, and if I have to pause our normal life for 8 months, then so be it.
Yay for my first post and of a topic that I have been living and breathing the past couple of weeks. If you're not aware, I'm in the midst of wedding planning. I get married on April 29th and Siri just informed that's 54 days away! Where did time go? This is really what I've been trying to figure out the last couple of weeks. It dawned on me on my last trip home, when I had my bridal shower. The day just flew by and probably even faster given all the mimosas I consumed. I grew a bit sad because I felt I hadn't soaked up every moment given to me. This was the only bridal shower I was going to have, and I spent the day a little inebriated. The day truly felt like a blur.
Putting my bridal shower aside, with a wedding comes so many exciting things! Marriage invites the idea of buying your first home, children, career planning, etc. Instead of focusing at the task at hand, I find myself looking up houses with 3 or more bedrooms with the potential income I hope to make after grad school. If you're at all familiar with the San Diego market, it's daunting. You pretty much need to be a millionaire to own a decent-sized house. From there, it's a downward spiral of me freaking out about if my career path will support the lifestyle I hope to have. Will my children live comfortably as I want them to? Will Kevin and I spend our lives stressing over money? And then I go back to today and I'm only planning our wedding. Today is all that really matters. Of course, you have to have somewhat of a plan for the future, but as we all know, life will guide us to where we need to be.
I only get to plan one wedding and as stressful as it's turning out to be, I just have to appreciate this moment in time for what it's worth. Life is simply beautiful right now. I'm planning an event to celebrate my love with my soulmate. There are a few practices I've been trying to take part of to truly become more mindful in life. I've listed them below:
1) Stop & utilize your senses
What do you see? Smell? Taste? Feel? Hear? Etc. It sounds dramatic, I know but it works. Give yourself a full-body scan and comprehend that moment. You'll never forget it and perhaps it is those very smells and sounds that you'll associate to that moment in the future.
An important part of yoga is your breath. A strong practice requires a focus on your inhales and exhales. Why? Because if you are truly focusing on this, you cannot think of anything other than what is happening NOW. You move with intention and control. It's simply a tool to connect your mind and body, and acts as a guiding force during the physical practice. Yoga was explained best in a video I watched the other day - "If you remain open to the broader offering of yoga as a lifestyle, you can begin to see that it shows up everywhere." As a teacher, I preach yoga as a way of life so the importance of breath off the mat is apparent. During times of stress, like traffic for instance, focusing on long, powerful breaths can calm you and draw you back to the present. Instead of racing to your destination, you can appreciate your journey.
3) Don't consume alcohol in excess
This applies to any mind-altering substance so drugs, natural or otherwise, are included. Especially for important occasions like birthdays, weddings, concerts, etc, consuming alcohol should be done with caution. I remember every detail of my proposal. Instead of going out and celebrating, pounding down shots, I had a few glasses of wine and I will never forget how happy both my fiance and I felt. There isn't anything wrong with getting a little tipsy but as more alcohol is consumed, the more inhibited we become. This interferes with the practice of mindfulness and certainly can dull an experience if you cannot fully feel it.
This doesn't have to involve you om'ing as most people imagine the practice of meditation. This could be as simple as sitting comfortably and taking two minutes to just focus on the present moment. Maybe pay attention to your breathing pattern, the smells in the room, or even take to a guided meditation on YouTube or a Podcast. I often use my time in Savasana to meditate and sometimes it's simply euphoric, I can't help but stay and extra couple minutes.
5) Plan Accordingly
I say this very lightly. Sometimes there are situations we simply cannot anticipate the future, but for the situations we can, like appointments or our daily routine before work or school, etc. Take this for example- when you're in a rush, you simply have no time to "stop and smell the roses" Everything around you is a blur and you zip through life during that time. So for as much as you can, give your self space and time to slow down. We live in a culture where if we're not doing things fast, we're being "unproductive," yet we're sick, stressed and tired all the time. Coincidence? I think not.
These are just a few that come to mind for me. Feel free to comment below with ways you keep mindful!