Change Is The Only Constant

This post was originally posted on Finding Isvara.

pexels-photo-213023.jpeg

I have always heard that yoga will change you. Actually, many things can change you, a new baby, a relationship, a new job or an experience. Some changes are evident and other times you don’t realize you have changed until much later.

Sometimes change is very slow, like watching a baby grow. The daily changes are very small, unnoticeable even. But after a year, your once new-born is now a walking toddler who will continue to change, grow and evolve.

Change can also be forced upon you. My mother passed away when I was eleven. Many things changed suddenly from one day to the next, with no warnings or time to prepare for it. This experience has affected me, I am sure, in many ways; in more ways than I realize. I know it is the reason for many decisions I've made and how I choose to raise my children. 

Sometimes I am aware of changes I want to make, and I know which new habits to adopt to achieve them. A couple years ago I noticed that every night I was always rushing around trying to get everything done and went to bed feeling exhausted. I knew what change had to be made; I needed to let go of the idea of perfection and ask for some help. Since then, chores have been assigned! Evenings are more relaxed and everyone feels like a contributing member of our family.

Within my yoga practice, I sometimes work to achieve certain goals. I may be working on developing more strength or flexibility, healing an injury or finding new ways to bring more awareness into my practice. These changes often spill over into other areas and I don’t realize it until much later, so change happens even when I’m not trying. Over the past few months, I've been working to heal an injury in my right shoulder, which has brought much more awareness into my practice. Alignment, breath, and my limits are always present on and off my mat.

 Here I am in Sirsasana (headstand), a posture I haven't tried in months because of the injury in my shoulder. Photo by:  @mariafernandasalinas

Here I am in Sirsasana (headstand), a posture I haven't tried in months because of the injury in my shoulder. Photo by: @mariafernandasalinas

There are other more subtle and internal changes I’ve noticed, too. Some of my beliefs and the way I solve or approach problems have changed over time. Could these internal changes be the “transformations” I’ve heard about? They affect how I relate to others and myself. These transformations are more than just sticking to certain habits. They're about knowing on a deep internal level what it is you need to do, with no questions about it. I have noticed I am less critical of others and myself. I’ve also stopped taking things personally because ultimately everyone is living their own life and doing what they need to do.  It has taken me quite some time to realize this.

And other times, I work on change even though I see very little progress, but I have faith it will happen.  Each day I sit still and breathe; I call it meditating. Most days my thoughts are all over the place, mulling over everything I have to do. Anyone watching me meditate would think I’m calm, disciplined, and focused, in control of my thoughts and emotions. That is not completely true, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. The phrase fake it until you make it, comes to mind. 

You don’t always have to achieve each and every one of your goals for change to occur, I believe it will happen if you keep trying and working for it. Sometimes it’s the small changes that make the most impact and trigger other changes to take place.

When I look back to when I started practicing yoga, I can see the physical changes in my body, the knowledge I have gained and how my practice has evolved. All these aspects and much more will continue to evolve over time because growth and change never stop.

Be aware of where you are now, constantly check in with yourself and most importantly do not give up.

Carolyn

No Expectations

 Beautiful view of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Beautiful view of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Originally posted on Finding Isvara on March 9th, 2017

We were in the midst of moving to Malaysia, so we had to focus on activities that were not part of our daily routine: like having packers in our house, saying goodbyes, gathering necessary paperwork for the move and many other things. Needless to say, my daily yoga practice suffered. Some days I only did sun salutations for the sake of some physical activity and other days it was sitting quietly just to gather my thoughts and sanity. 

The day after we arrived in Kuala Lumpur I decided to get on my mat. I was tired from the previous weeks and long trip, so I didn’t have many expectations about what my practice was going to be like. Even though I didn’t feel like it, I knew it was the best thing to do. Practicing would bring a feeling of familiarity, get me back into my routine and help with the jetlag. 

At times, I can be very asana oriented, and I expect a lot from myself physically. This day was different. My plan was to only do the standing postures. Instead, I ended up doing full primary series. I have experienced that before, not only in my practice but in other areas of my life as well; when I don’t expect much I go beyond what I thought possible.

So now I ask myself, "Should I have expectations or not?"

I have noticed, at least for me, when I have expectations I start to control the situation. I have a picture in my head of how it should be, and instead of being flexible and allowing the situation to evolve naturally according to the circumstances, I am fixated on a plan that will produce the results I want. I often fool myself into thinking I’m easygoing and will adapt to any change but my primary thought is “If I had a plan, why do I have to change it?” 

But I have come to realize, it’s better when I don’t have expectations. I am open to what will happen. I can enjoy the moment when I’m not trying to control it. I am more relaxed and not wasting my energy, time or effort on the outcome.

Effort. This is the keyword. Too much effort is exhausting and stressful. Having goals and making plans are wise and some of the keys to success, but we must be aware of the effort used to achieve them. It reminds me of Yoga Sutra 1.12 Abhyasa vairagyabhyam tannirodhah which refers to finding the appropriate balance between practice and detachment. We must maintain a balance between “never give up” and “always let go.”

But I am forgetful. It’s so easy to get caught up in my wants and desires and focus only on my expectations. 

Note to self: 

 - Remember to keep my expectations to a minimum. 

 - Don’t confuse not having expectations with not having goals or making plans. 

 - Always do my best.

 - Accept the outcome whatever that may be.

 

Carolyn

Celebration Time

 Photo by  Kumar  on  flickr

Photo by Kumar on flickr

Originally posted on Finding Isvara on March 16th, 2017

All over the world, people celebrate. Anything and everything can be celebrated, -- people, the weather, food even good and evil. Sometimes we know the reasons behind a celebration; other times we join a celebration because it seems fun, without giving it a second thought.

Spring is soon to begin in the northern hemisphere and it is the reason for many celebrations around the world. This week, Hindus celebrated Holi, The Festival of Colors. Holi is observed on the last full moon of the lunar month (which was Monday).

I saw this video a few days ago and wanted to share it with you. Karolina Goswami, a polish woman married to an Indian and living in India beautifully explains the sacred Holi festival. I love that she is non-Indian yet is able to convey such respect and love for this tradition. Watch the video and find out why friends and strangers throw bright colored powders at each other as they celebrate the arrival of spring, why people take to the streets to dance and play, and how they commemorate Krishna’s playful nature.

Enjoy!

Carolyn