Looking Back to See Ahead

At many points within the last year, I felt I had set myself back. I blamed myself for letting life set me back. You see, when I started my yoga practice, that first year was incredible. For the first time in my life I was fully enjoying my life because I was learning to enjoy each moment, acknowledging everything I had to be grateful for, overcoming fears, and choosing a positive mindset in difficult situations. And even though I believe yoga was the reason I felt ready to take a bigger step and move to Charlotte, when I got here everything changed. It was like the positivity and everything good I had learned from practicing with my instructor back home, twice a week for a year, carried over for a little while but as time went by, I lost it. I tried and tried, with what little money I had brought with me and began to make just establishing myself at my first full-time job, to seek an instructor who could reach me. While I was open to a new kind of teaching and inspiration, it just felt like nothing was really working. Though I continued to practice regularly, it often felt like I had lost some super human positive mind power. This made everything that happened this past year much more trying.

I could go on endlessly about everything I’ve been through this year. There is probably one person who knows everything, and having her to confide in every day without judgment is something I’ll never be able to fully express my gratitude for. This year I lost my dog, I lost my grandmother, I rescued a bulldog with severe health issues and lost a lot of sleep and gained a lot more weight. I ran a race and injured my leg, and what do you know, gained more weight. I was the victim of bullying. I did not have a lot of money to go out and do anything fun, but the one time I did I went out and had a blast, but I made a mistake, and it cost me a relationship I treasured deeply.

Truth be told, though, I could not be more grateful for all of these things that have happened, but especially for my most recent mistake. I guess I remember thinking a few months ago that if  I was going to lose someone, it had to be for a reason, right? I’ve always been big not so much on the belief that everything happens for reason, but that it is up to us to make that reason. To learn and use every situation as an opportunity to be optimistic, and simply think, “what about this situation is good?”. If you think about it, we’re all probably a lot more optimistic than we think. If we weren’t, and we did not seek the best from the worst, my guess is most of us would not still be here. In every moment we have a choice in thought, and behind every optimistic thought is an portion of strength, and as we continue through life we build on to those moments, and to those thoughts, and for all of you who are still here and have the chance to make that choice that allows you to move forward, you are insanely stronger than you’ve probably ever taken the time to give yourself credit for. (So you should probably take a moment and do that now).

You see, it is in the face of adversity that we are most ripe for growth.  So for me this time, I wanted to dig deeper. I guess something within me said that finding a positive reason was not enough. I figured my year was challenging enough, why not dig up some crap from the past and get the root of some of my issues? I wanted to know why I found myself in this situation in the first place, so that I could truly learn from my actions, or patterns rather, as I had made similar mistakes in the past. And so for the last couple of months I’ve practiced, I’ve thought, I’ve written, and I’ve cried…a lot. And I wanted nothing to do with any of it. It was by far two of the most challenging months of my life, because in those moments of silence and self reflection, I did find answers. And it hurt. It hurt so badly when painful memories resurfaced from my past. But the light that shone through the cracks where I thought I was forever broken, was finally knowing why. I had dug up something I suppressed for so long and it was like “finally, I have an answer! I don’t have to blame myself any more.” And I knew I still had a lot of work to do. Just feeling assured that I don’t have to punish myself, and for some unknown reason no less, does not mean I am no longer the proprietor of the mistakes of my past. And it does not mean the road ahead is going to be easy now.  I always knew that I’ve had a pretty damn amazing and blessed life. And so in my times of darkness I never understood why I could possibly be so down or so confused. And that’s always been something that has made me even more upset with myself. But now it’s like my roots are finally intertwining. The painful and the joyful roots of my past are coming together to provide a balanced foundation for me to continue growing and blossoming from.

So maybe my first year practicing yoga was, in large part, so amazing, because life was too easy then. I mean, it didn’t get much better than living rent free with people who kept my spirits up. With time and job that allowed me to be creative. Sure I got through some tough points and overall become a more positive person, but maybe not enough shit was thrown in my face to really incorporate and use all of tools I’m sure I had within my reach. Though the real life situations I’ve faced this year in Charlotte are exactly what has made me feel set back, they are the same situations and challenges I’ve been able to use as guidance, instead of just working through things alone on my yoga mat in Chapel Hill.

So if everything from my past, recent and distant, positive and negative, mistakes and learnings, are just means of moving forward, then I really have not been set back at all. In fact there is no way anything could ever set me back, no matter how much at the time it can feel that way. I realize now that the only thing that has kept me from moving forward was not giving myself the love, patience, and understanding necessary to cope with the pain that comes up when facing the past.

As we get older, we acquire more freedom to decide what to do with. With more freedom of choice typically comes more drive to better ourselves, because we find that we cannot move forward when something is holding us back. And that can mean something different for all of us, be it our pasts, debilitating habits, or unhealthy relationships perhaps. As we get older, the stakes become higher because everything is real. These challenges, fears, setbacks, and doubts are all very real, and should not be ignored. They are the stepping stones to greater things. When we face and deal with our pain, and when the fear is greater and the doubts begin to play a bigger role, that’s where change happens. That’s when we are ready for change to happen even if it doesn’t feel like it. The stakes are higher now as they pertain to all of these stepping stones we perceive as negative, because the stakes are also higher for our dreams. The stakes are our dreams. Our futures. Face your past and setbacks with forgiveness and without judgement, so that you can unleash yourself and your highest power! Don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance. Don’t be afraid to chase what makes you feel alive.

Do your practice, all is coming.



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