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Recently, I observed a less than pleasant habit of mine. I'm in a state of perpetual frustration over... something. I always have something to worry about deep down, whether it's finances, something I'm mad at my husband for, concern about an upcoming workshop or deadline, wishing my house were cleaner, bigger, more open... There's always something.
I’ve considered a quite radical approach to this problem. What if I dropped the habit?
In the style of yoga I teach, we don’t use the word drop. My teacher, Ana Forrest, is fond of saying, “There is no dropping in yoga”.
The thing is, I agree, especially when it comes to spotting a student in a new challenging pose. But I do think bad habits are worth dropping, and I’ve been toying with dropping this one. Of course, it’s a much more sophisticated process than just flipping a switch.
For that reason, I’ve developed a method that seems to be working to date. When I catch myself perpetuating circumstances that will cause problems for me (and make no mistake, that's what I do: I perpetuate), I change course. It’s interesting because when I first started doing this, there was a piece of me that was like: Gasp! What will I do without all that angst?!
That’s right. There's a piece of me that actually likes this struggle, likes this heavy, friction-packed energy. There's a piece of me that my anxiety sustains. When I consider the absence of struggle, there's a piece of me that feels alienated, unnourished, even forgotten...
Like many things in my life these days, it all started on my mat. I’ve done no less than three major trainings with Forrest Yoga. At the first training, I heard about practicing a struggle-free life no less than a dozen times. And I ignored it no less than a dozen times. They’re not referring to me, I thought. That doesn’t even make sense, said another piece of me. I didn’t know this then, but it was likely the piece of me sustained by my struggle that instantly dismissed this struggle-free notion. What a paradox! According to Caroline Myss, the divine always works in paradoxes...
Fast forward several more years and two more major trainings. Now I was in my third training with Ana. Since beginning this style of yoga, I had married someone new, spearheaded the opening and development of a successful studio, birthed a beautiful baby girl and buried my beautiful dead mother. At this particular training, I was more open. I worked hard to be there, harder than I’ve ever worked to attend a training. I was nursing my baby at each break and often took pumping breaks. This time, when Ana started speaking about struggle, a part of me that so desperately cherished any inkling of peace kicked me in my ass and said, Listen up. She means you, dammit. So I listened. And for the first time, I allowed myself to soften into depth instead of struggle.
Now I'm applying this learning to my life. I don’t want it anymore. I don’t want the struggle. The bruises on my soul that the struggle leaves are painful. I don’t want the angst. The constriction of my life force that the angst mitigates is depleting. I don’t want the pattern to continue. I’m ready for change. I’m ready for something new. I’m ready to live struggle free. On my mat. In my relationship. As a parent... Everywhere.
Let’s live struggle free. Let’s not choke off our breath or deny the love around us. Let’s not spend time comparing ourselves to others, ourselves to previous performance, ourselves to ourselves. Let’s focus on loving ourselves at each moment, no matter what the experience — high/low/good/bad/fat/thin/easy/difficult/rich/poor.... Let’s drop the struggle, the need for anxiety, the depleting behavior. Let’s live struggle free.