I'm celebrating a birthday next week. This one moves me to a new "age check box." Needless to say I've been doing a little self-reflection. Luckily this past year has been amazing. I didn't earn my fortune, start a new career, or even travel around the world. Instead, I started yoga teacher training the day before my birthday last year and honestly, I'm not the person I was 365 days ago.
But then I continued to look back at the rest of my life and it made me a little sad. I looked at the events and opportunities I've missed because of my own self-doubt. It made me wish I would have come to yoga earlier.
In yoga, we practice a concept of Ahimsa or do no harm. This yama says not to harm others or our world, but for me this practice had to start with myself first. See I have an ugly little voice in my head that constantly whispers "You can't. You aren't brave, strong, smart, pretty, skinny, funny enough." These thoughts and words I allowed myself to think were causing me harm -- lots of harm.
Breaking the power of that little voice is hard. I still struggle. Yoga both on the mat and off the mat have helped. On the mat I have challenged myself into poses I never thought possible -- and I've fallen flat on my face trying them. (Thanks to crow pose I can confirm the floor does hurt when you smack your nose against it!) But I never give up. Off the mat, I've learned to breathe, take a moment to think, and recognize that I am the only me out there -- with my quirky ways, lopsided smile, and laugh that is entirely too loud for most situations. During yoga teacher training, we had a mantra "you are perfect in your imperfections" or to quote my favorite author, Dr. Seuss: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
So today when I looked in the mirror, I saw every single one of the days that landed me in a new check box. New grey hairs, wrinkles around my eyes, a body that isn't as skinny as it once was.....but then I saw the woman who biked the Golden Gate Bridge, finally nailed crow pose, has built amazing friendships, and traveled to amazing places all across this world. I realized then that this new check box just brings new opportunities to conquer.....and I CAN do it.
I'm practicing Ahimsa with myself. Showing some kindness, trying to keep that ugly little voice from doing harm. Me and my imperfections are ready for the next check box.....and looking forward to every day I get to spend in it!
So I ask you -- how do you practice Ahimsa with yourself?