Every morning I roll out of my bed onto my mat. I sleepily select a yoga video by its duration and name and trust that it will be the session I was supposed to choose. I know that I am to learn and that I will have to encounter challenge to do both that and grow. If I come across something I’ve never done before, I trust I’m ready to try it. I fall, I collapse, I giggle and I get right back up again. I may ache the next day, but it’s a worthy ache and I’ll return to the mat again.
Fast forward a couple of hours and the process isn’t quite as simple. Maybe because the intention isn’t quite as defined, maybe because I don’t understand the purpose of all that I do, the weight of expectation creeps in. I wonder how I should present myself in meetings, I second guess how to be in almost all interactions. I pride myself in being perceptive and observant so I have a bank of benchmarks, ideas of how things should go. And the success of the day could be easily measured between how I perform that day against the benchmark bank into which I’ve invested so much.
And yet, whilst the benchmarks are useful, they are not all I was taught they could be. They allow me to move through life with some grace, yes. They allow me to support others, yes. But they determine less and less of what I deem success and define less and less of what I aim for. Because I can see now that measuring your game against the set rules and the etiquette is great, but only if that’s the game you aspire to. Instead of burdening myself with the weight of expectation that actually bears little relevance to my dreams, I’m learning to breathe through some of them.
I breathe through the mantle of hierarchy, deferring graciously to everyone who is higher up the ladder or a few chapters ahead of me – not to be disrespectful but to rediscover my own opinions. I exhale the need to climb the career path studiously and efficiently. I let go of the need to be all things to all people in any social setting. And I do all this to reacquaint myself with me. The me who wants a base somewhere that allows me to have some outdoor tranquility, I don’t care how big the concrete shell is. The me who will get distracted in conversation by a beautiful butterfly and delight in its lilting flight. The me who just wants to find the best way to be of service to others, to help them be the most luminous of souls.
In doing so this year, I will fall and I will collapse sometimes. But I will also giggle and find strength that I never knew I had. I’ll sweat my way through learning to allow and to realign. And I know I’ll find myself in positions where my brain tells me I can’t, and my heart tells me to just play along. I’ll feel the weight of my old stories of ‘should’ and try to twist my way into lighter ‘could’s. And just as mistakes on the mat are admirable and those in life are seen as not, I have to be prepared to be measured against every other personal bank that surrounds me each day and hold true.
It’s a worthy challenge for 2015 and one that not everyone will understand. I won’t be perfect, stumbles won’t mean failure and it won’t always be beautiful. But if I aim to trust my days as I trust my hours on the mat, if I seek betterment not perfect, flexibility over finesse, if I set a focus each day as I do each practice, then maybe I’ll achieve more this year than ever before. And I would rather carry the weight of all that is in me than measurements to societal expectation any day.