A couple of years ago I was really struggling with a mix of changing hormones and a glass-nearly-empty kind of thinking. I allowed turning 40 to be a burden rather than a time to celebrate. Whenever frustration or disappointment crept in my soul, I foolishly gave it a place to hibernate. The heaviness sat there day in and day out.
At the end of 2012 I started going to a yoga studio, mostly out of peer pressure. My best friend was studying to be a certified yoga instructor and there was a new-found peace about her that I had not seen in many years. She seemed more centered and more in control of her emotions. She just seemed more present. So I went to yoga, off and on, for months. More off than on to be honest. I’d buy a block of time since it was less expensive per session that way, and because I thought maybe by prepaying for something I would be more apt to follow through.
Not so much.
But then one Sunday morning in January of 2013, I dragged myself out and showed up at the studio in all my bed head and morning breath glory. I can still picture myself staring at chipped toe nail polish and feeling very far away. Electric heaters carefully placed around the room helped block out the bitter cold of our Michigan winter, slowly bringing my body to a more comfortable temperature. I began to settle in to the space.
I remembered why I came.
I remembered why I should always come.
With it being the first classes of the new year, our instructor was focused on helping us concentrate on finding a purpose or mantra to carry us through each day. I had never thought to do this before. I had always given in to the socially acceptable, perhaps socially driven, idea of setting New Year’s Resolutions. Mine was typical: lose weight, be more organized, volunteer, write more. Unfortunately, most of these resolutions would either be abandoned early on or just cause anxiety. But the idea of a one word or phrase to focus on all year seemed possible. A resolution I could actually keep.
And from that moment on, instead of worrying about the how or why of anything, I just focused on finding the joy in each moment. I even had a leather bracelet made with the word JOY and wore it every day so I could remind myself constantly to find joy. It worked too. I found joy more easily each day and by the end of the year my heart and head was overflowing with joyful memories. It changed the way I looked at everything. The next year I chose the word patience, although I did not make sure to put it in my line of site every day. I realize now that I need a very visual and tangible reminder. I am a list maker, a poster printer, and a task oriented nerd. There were far too many times last year that I lost my patience, perhaps didn’t even look for it in the heat of a moment and got distracted. By the end of last year, I started wearing my joy bracelet and suddenly, I was at peace again.
So this year, I chose the word and phrase Be Present and yes, I just ordered my mantra bracelet to remind me everyday to be the person I know I can be.