Hi friends! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I’ve been working away like a mad fiend getting as much work done as possible before I spend a week with my family and their significant others in Florida. Huzzah for 7th wheeling! 😉 As I mentioned Monday, I’ve made a commitment to fully nourishing and healing my body for the next month. If you want to join me, I’ll be guiding a group of amazing people on their own Body and Mind Makeovers in May. You can get more information and sign up here.
Anyhoo, a few days ago I attended a lecture by the founder of One Yoga, Ryan Leier. He’s an amazing teacher and just being in his presence is enough to fill a person with joy and the fire to achieve things you never thought you could accomplish. The workshop was on the yogic lifestyle and the different principles or foundations upon which to build your practice. It was super informative and the school-loving nerd inside me totally geeked out and took way too many notes. What I want to share today is what stuck with me the most and what I have been ruminating on since the lecture. At the very beginning Ryan broke yoga down into the following three principles: Compassion, Control, and Charity. I love the elegant simplicity of this definition and believe that it applies to all areas of our lives, whether you practice yoga, run marathons, kick ass at Cross Fit, or any other myriad of activities out there to keep us healthy and happy. I think if we apply these principles to our lives we can create a truly successful, loving, and giving life.
The way I interpreted the three Cees above may vary greatly from someone else’s interpretation or even what Ryan intended when he spoke about them. Doesn’t matter! Perception is reality, so here’s my take on how these key words are applicable to life on and off the mat.
I’ve talked quite a bit about compassion in its various guises using perhaps different terms (specifically here, here, and here) and that’s because I honestly think it is one of the most important tools we have at our disposal in terms of helping our bodies really and truly heal. If we’re constantly at war with our bodies, striving to fit them into specific molds, starving them, brutalizing them with never-ending workouts, or looking in the mirror daily and thinking about how much we hate this or that part of them how are we ever supposed to come to a place where we can nourish and love ourselves? And if we can’t have compassion for the all the things our bodies have gone through and offer them up love and support, how are we supposed to do that for the people in our lives? Having compassion for yourself is an amazing foundation upon which to build compassion for your friends and family, for the stranger on the street, the perceived a**hole at work who’s freaking out at you, and finally for every other living creature on the planet. If we start from a place of compassion we can recognize that everyone we meet is living their own story, with their own struggles or joys. And coming from that place it’s so much easier to greet everyone we encounter with love, acceptance, and understanding. Doing so not only makes your own life brighter, but can have a ripple effect on those around you.
This one is probably the hardest for me. I come from another C-compulsiveness, which makes it very hard to exhibit control in certain situations. Because it is the hardest one for me to live it is likely also the one that is most important for me. The way I look at control is not in a self-flagellating kind of way where I must control every thought, emotion, or action in my life, but rather I come to control from a place of kindness. I do think it’s important to recognize your patterns, be they thought or action, reflect on them, figure out the ones which are no longer serving you, and then actively try to control or change that pattern until a new, healthier habit forms in its place. This could be something simple like recognizing that every time you walk past a mirror you think “Gross! Look at those love handles.” Now that you’re aware of that behaviour you can actively try to control your reaction or response the next time you’re in that situation. Try replacing that negative thought pattern with something loving such as “Wow look at how strong my thighs are! I bet I could hike Machu Pichu no problem with these gams!” Eventually after enough time has passed you will no longer have to actively think about complimenting yourself whenever you pass a mirror, you just will! And that’s where the beauty of this discipline comes in. Control becomes a means of freedom. Freedom from negativity, from harmful or destructive behaviours, freedom from that bitchy little voice in your head telling you that you’re not enough. By learning to control that voice or those habits you’ll be free to enjoy a life of joy, strength, and love. And that’s not too shabby!
Do you have a roof over your head? Are you able to put food on the table for you and your family? Do you have relative job security? Congratulations, you are living a privileged life whether you have the latest iPhone or not. Bonus points go to you if you actually enjoy your job, are part of a wonderful community, have balance between work and play, and feel wonderfully healthy and fulfilled. However, even without all the bonus aspects (which are yours for the taking if you get out there and create them!) you are still in a position to do good things in this world. Maybe you volunteer a couple of hours a week, maybe you’re ridiculously busy so you donate money to a charity, maybe you make a week of dinners for the friend with the flu who has a family of four to feed. It doesn’t really matter what you do, so long as you’re doing it from a place of authenticity and compassion, not just to make yourself look good. “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” (Teddy Roosevelt) is a wise mantra to live by and I firmly believe that the love and energy you put out there will come back to you several times over.
Now those are the three Cees Ryan went over at the workshop, but I have a little bonus one for all your awesome peeps!
I think the process of creation is one of the most fulfilling experiences we as humans can have. Maybe that’s just my ovaries talking, but seeing or reading something that I’ve created gives me a sense of achievement and also sometimes fills me with wonder at where this creation has come from. That doesn’t mean what I create is always awesome or that anyone else ever thinks anything that I do is wicked cool, but I don’t care and that’s not the point. The point is to literally make something from nothing, well nothing but your brain and whatever your medium of choice is. It could be painting, knitting, coding, building software, designing clothing, writing, gardening, whatever! The possibilities are seriously only as limited as your imagination. Maybe it takes some time for you to figure out what creative process makes your soul sing, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun along the way! Just get out there and get started. Make a fool of yourself, fail at things. I promise you won’t die and most people are too concerned about their own lives to really care what you’re doing in the corner with your paste and magazine clippings.
Well there we have it friends. My four Cees for Success! Though my definition of success varies greatly from that which is predicated on lots of money, a fast car, a big house, and lots of nice threads.
What are your thoughts on these four principles? Have you already applied any of them to your life? Let me know in the comments! Have a wonderfully whimsical week!