Be Where You Are
Have you ever said: “I can’t _____________ (lose weight, change jobs, spend more time with my kids, eat better, do more yoga…) until I _____________ (have more money, have more time, find a partner, get a new house…)? The ironic thing is, we are often putting off the things that will benefit us most, the things that will actually help us be more centered and able to deal with stress.
Beryl Bender Birch will be here for a workshop November 7-9! She asks,
What does it mean to be awake? It means to be aware, conscious, observing. The revelation comes when you realize that “who you are” is not your thoughts, your stuff, your profession, your bank account, or your political affiliation. It is the moment you get unstuck from your incessant mind chatter, if only for a moment, to possibly have an experience of yoga, of boundlessness. Yoga is finding the answer to the question “Who am I?” This experience takes you beyond personal fixation to a greater concern for the well-being of all. It is then that you can take your practice off the mat and into the world for the greater good!
Is yoga the only thing that can do this? Of course not— but, of course, we teach yoga! The idea here is that there is no right time to start living more fully. The time is now and you are exactly who and where you need to be to begin. One analogy I think of is putting off fixing your car. What will happen if your car needs a repair but you keep driving it? Eventually your car will break down and it will probably cost you in time, money, and safety significantly more than if you had taken care of it from the beginning. Am I saying you are going to break down? Well, of course not—but maybe.
Most of what we perceive as barriers have to do with our experiences in the past. Staying rooted in the past is often associated with living life in fear. Being present is about centering yourself firmly if not briefly in the present. We all are capable of incredible things when we set our minds to them. Why not set your mind on doing the things you know in you heart make you feel more alive? More connected to others. This month’s elections bring to mind this issue with tremendous clarity. I think that this presidential election has become a contrast of fear versus hope. Fear versus acceptance of others. Fear is powerful and oppressive. If you believe this, I hope you will take some time on Election Day not only to vote, but to stand with me and others at the polls to express your belief in hope, compassion, and acceptance. This is an excellent way to be “where you are” now. Many of us have concerns, worries, and obstacles. The hopeful shift in our country is a great way to put this all into perspective. November 4 gives all of us a start date. A day when a miracle can and hopefully will be possible. Why not make it a day of beginnings for all of us.
Starting where you are, giving what you can and becoming more “awake and conscious” are all ways to practice what is called maitri, lovingkindness from the Buddhist tradition. To paraphrase Pema Chodren, maitri practice isn’t about throwing ourselves away to become someone better, or waiting to become better. It is about befriending who we already are. To start this practice you simply need to be exactly who you are right now. This step means you accept yourself with all of your flaws. Maybe that leads to accept others right where they are, too.