I’m writing this post right before my first evening of yoga teacher training begins at Tranquil Space. I’ve been looking forward to this moment for weeks, but now, when it’s actually upon me — I’m ever-so-slightly terrified. Actually doing something, after all, is entirely different from talking about doing it.
Which has me thinking about the yogic concept of finding your “edge” – the point at which you are challenging yourself to move out of your comfort zone. We can find our edge in yoga poses, or asanas – deepening a stretch, holding a backbend for a few more breaths – and also in our daily lives: finally picking up the phone to make a dreaded call, volunteering to lead a project we’re tempted to let someone else take on, etc.
So, how do we know when it’s right to push ourselves? It’s not easy. It means being able to listen to your gut, and in our crowded, busy lives, that’s no simple proposition. Our “gut,” or core self, is competing for airtime with dozens of other voices at any given moment – a boss’, a friend’s, a parent’s – telling us what we should do. When you multiply these competing voices by the number of decisions we’re faced with every day, it’s easy to see how most of us lose touch with the voice we need to hear most clearly: our own.
Here are a few ways I’ve found to stay in touch with my core self – to be able to hear my “gut”:
- Practicing yoga – no surprise to see this on the list, right? Yoga gets me out of my head and into my body, grounding me in the present moment, helping all the influences of the world melt away as I listen to my own movements and breath. And while you may wish to build towards a deeper practice, remember that every great endeavor starts with a small step: try carving out 5 minutes a day for a home practice, and take it from there.
- Journaling – You don’t need to consider yourself a “writer” for journaling to be a useful tool. Just put pen to paper, and see what comes out. Maybe it’s a grocery list, or a rant about something at work, or, who knows, a poem. There’s no right or wrong, you’re just emptying yourself onto the page as a way of purging the noise in your head that can overwhelm that deeper voice you’re trying to tune into.
- Changing my environment – We tend to have more automatic responses, I think, in environments in which we spend a lot of time. Sometimes I get the biggest jolt to my consciousness simply by spending some time in a location – a cafe, a park, even a market – that isn’t part of my daily or weekly routine. Something in me wakes up and pays attention in a new way, and that something is often an authentic part of me that exists outside automatic response. The more I bring her out to play, the more willing she is to show me the secret passageway to that core part of myself I’m looking for.
What activities or practices help you cultivate a deeper relationship with yourself? Share your suggestions using the comments feature below. And wish me luck with teacher training – it starts in 15 minutes!