A little over a year ago, I was reflecting on 2012 and I felt lost. Every ounce of energy I had went into taking care of my daughter and my husband. I love them and I love caring for them, but somewhere along the way, my identity became taking care of them and I was disappointed to find that my needs had gotten buried beneath theirs. I noticed myself becoming less patient and more and more exhausted. My marriage felt strained. I wasn’t the person I wanted my daughter to know me as.
I don’t usually make resolutions, but for 2013, I decided that I had to take better care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually. I had to make myself a priority. I kept it that broad and left myself open to whatever may help me fulfill that resolution.
Exactly one year ago today, I decided to take a yoga class. Those who know me best know that I don’t handle change easily. I like my routines. Doing something new, even something like going to a yoga class I’ve never been to, by myself, gives me anxiety. But that Sunday morning, I got up and I dragged myself to that class.
I didn’t know what to expect. There were more people there than I expected and I felt awkward at first. But I tried to remind myself to stay in the moment, to take this time to focus on myself. Not the people I love, not the strangers in the room, just me.
The instructor started that class, as she always does, by asking us to set an intention for our practice that day. I immediately started thinking about other people in my life, and their problems, and how my energy might help them, but then I caught myself. I had to do this for myself. I almost started to cry right then and there. I finally decided on three simple words: peace, balance and strength. After a moment, she asked us to focus on our breath, and I did.
Since that day, that intention has remained the same for me every single time I have practiced. It has almost become a mantra for me. And while I am still working on these things for myself, I have found something even more important through my practice, something I didn’t even realize I needed at the time. Healing.
Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Meditation is not meant to help us avoid problems or run away from difficulties. It is meant to allow positive healing to take place. To meditate is to learn how to stop – to stop being carried away by our regrets about the past, our anger or despair in the present, or our worries about the future.” Yoga and meditation have allowed me to do this.
The instructor closed that first class I went to, as she always does, by thanking us for practicing yoga with her, and acknowledging the light within us all.
And there it was. That was exactly what my resolution for 2013 was, to rejuvenate and reignite that light within me. And I felt more confident about my resolution in that moment than when I committed to it. I felt like this instructor and this class and my practice of yoga would be the things that guided me through this year and brought me back to myself. And they have.
And so 2013 has been a journey of the self for me. I am finding peace and balance and strength. I am finding healing. I am finding confidence and doing things I never imagined being able to do. But most importantly, I am finding me again. I am able to give more of myself to the people I love because I am more whole and connected.
I never liked change, but it turns out Socrates was right in saying that, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
I do have some goals for 2014. I think I'll save that for another post, but my journey of the self and my practice of yoga definitely continues. For today and the year ahead, I wish for all of you what I found in 2013: a year of self-awareness and discovery, a year of health and happiness, a year of mental and physical strength, and a year of peace - peace in your heart, peace in your mind and peace in the world around you.