Melbourne winters are never friendly. And this year is no exception. I’m especially suffering because I don’t do cold weather very well. I spent last week nursing my way through a nasty cold. I had to be confined to bed just to get on top of it. And one of the things I had to suspend during that time was my yoga.
For those of you who may or may not know, I’m a yoga-natic. I love my yoga. It helps me stretch and it also calms me. It forces me to breath fully into my lungs and into every other part of my body. And my body talks to me, letting me know what it can and cannot take.
Anyway, last night was yoga night.
I sat on my desk for a long time contemplating, “to go or not to go”. I was still not feeling completely healthy. My body was protesting from within, still in a recoiled and defensive mode. And the weather outside was unbelievable – blisteringly icy with a wind that literally stopped you in your tracks.
Somehow, I came to a decision and as I walked to the gym, bracing the cold wind that numbed my face and fiercely penetrated through my heavy, woollen coat, I couldn’t help but admire my own commitment and dedication to yoga.
I was in the present moment, conscious of every step I took. I was all there – mind, body and soul. I wondered why I couldn’t take the same awareness and dedication to other areas of my life.
Life is a collection of days and moments, we all know that but somehow we let that reality slip from our minds. So what tends to happen is that we put off so many things that we could do today. But even more tragic than that, we don’t bring everything we are to each day we are given mainly because we always think tomorrow is guaranteed.
I’m not saying we should overload each day with actions and escapades. I’m really talking about a kind of attitude; the kind of attitude that prompts you to be awake to life and all that is you and around you – bringing all of you to every encounter and experience.
But is this really possible? That is the golden question.
One place where this idea undoubtedly affects me is in the area of relationships. I’ve always had a different approach to relationships – I bring all of myself to the table. I’m always open to negotiation and to talking and working through things no matter what they are. I am one hundred percent committed to any relationship that I value. There is never much holding back from me. My entire soul is fully steeped. In other words, I bring it, totally.
Of course I am not perfect but see this is the thing, I believe relationships are there so we can work through our imperfections, and so my imperfections alwasy go on the table as well.
But this approach as you might have already guessed has not really served me well. In fact, on the surface it would appear as though it has actually done me a major dis-service.
Today’s culture of relationships is full of talk about never trusting completely; or the need for holding some of yourself back as a way of protecting yourself; of having zero expectations of others and the list is endless.
While there is some element of truth in these beliefs, there is also something fundamentally wrong with them. They paint a picture of us performing and acting out in our relationships – hiding and giving only what we feel will serve us best.
I don’t know about you, but I find this completely disheartening.
And so I find myself at a crossroad.
Either to amend my take on relationships to what most of the world believes and possibly be miserable because I am being unfaithful to myself or continue on the path I’m on with a possible guarantee of misunderstandings and heartbreaks.
I’m not sure yet how one goes about making this kind of decision.
In the meantime, bringing your whole self to the table means bringing your heart to each day you are given; to each relationship you are blessed with and that you treasure; to each piece of work you do and to every single aspect of your life. It’s really just showing up – mind, soul and spirit in tow. It’s engaging with life at a personal level, living wholly, fully and in the present moment.
And yoga is all about that – being in the present moment. It’s about listening to the way your body responds to each pose, taking note of each protest your muscles make and then letting it go; being aware of how your breath fills your lungs and vibrates against your ribs.
As I lay on my yoga mat last night, I was a mixture of sadness and joy; sadness because of my failure to remember and apply this absolutely important principle to every other area of my life; but joyful that every single day is an opportunity for me to start a new beginning – to choose to bring my whole self to the table.