Last year I had to do a lot of “leaning in”… two circumstances were particularly significant that I learnt a lot from…
Firstly, when I graduated as a yoga teacher, spring 2018, I knew I had to be brave, trust my knowledge and skills and lean into the career change with unwavering determination. Making this transition was a very daunting experience, as I kept comparing myself to my amazing teachers who have been teaching for many years (some of them decades). Doubts and anxiety definitely crept in, but I just kept putting my best foot forward, I guess my mantra at this time was the quote by Lao Tzu “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. To help with those moments of trepidation I also kept my “Why?” at the forefront of my mind, which was, “I want to teach yoga to help improve the health and wellbeing of others.”
From this place, I started making contacts, and began auditioning for different yoga teaching gigs, soon enough I was landing work, the opportunities of which filled me with confidence, and I began to feel a real sense of achievement. The actual act of teaching also filled me with confidence as I began to see my own skills improving. From leaning in and embracing the unknown it was the only way to move things forward, it got me work, and much needed positive change happened in my life. If you too, find yourselves feeling anxious or overwhelmed by some form of change that you feel needs to happen in your life, just remember, the only way to find out if it’s the best thing for you to do right now is to dive in wholeheartedly and try it out for yourself. Your answers lie on the other side of change. Be bold, be brave…lean in!
The second deep “leaning in” experience I went through last year, which ironically enough coincided with the first one, was a difficult breakup. I knew I had to face it head on, sit with the painful feelings, lean into them, accept them as part of the splitting-up process, observe how I processed them, and seek out healthy and mindful distractions. I did all of the above, but was still floundering, as I was also trying to deal with the logistical nightmare of being homeless, changing my career and re-planning my future without my partner.
About a month after the break up, I shared my story with a client. He was going through a divorce and I was keen to hear an outside, male perspective. He told me to “own the situation”, to “own the break-up”. That was just what I needed to hear, for at that time I was floating around in an emotional cocktail of denial, confusion and fear, but as soon as I heard those “own it” words, it made total sense. Regardless of what was or what could be, there and then I needed to own the break-up, embrace the unknown (like with the yoga teaching) and keep leaning into whatever emotions were coming up. No shying away from the rollercoaster ride of it all, I took one day at a time and rode through the rough (heartbreak, pain, mess, tears and mourning) with the smooth (yoga teaching opportunities and new possibilities). By taking this stance of ownership, it gave me more power over the situation and I felt like I had control over it, rather than it having control over me.
After the dust settled somewhat and I was able to focus again I started to benefit from the time space that had opened up for me since becoming single. I used that time wisely by focusing on the yoga teaching which became a healthy, productive distraction. The break-up also acted like hitting a reset button, it forced me to re-connect with myself, and re-evaluate my needs, my wants and my boundaries. So even though it was a tough experience, there were some positive outcomes.
It also made me realise that I had to draw upon similar character strengths (Bravery, Perseverance, Patience, Hope and Gratitude) to get me through both the challenging break-up and career change. Now it is 2019, and I have gained some perspective of the happenings in 2018, I’ve become more aware that whatever difficulties we face in life, if we find the courage to own them, lean into them, use our character strengths to overcome them, look for any positives, and then mindfully keep moving forward, we will eventually start to shift from darkness to light, and the heavy load will start to lighten.
I wish your year ahead to be filled with love, laughter and good health, and an even greater dose of strength, optimism and peace to get you through the tougher times. And on that note, I will leave you with these words of wisdom…
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”