Maintaining status quo is easy, natural, like Newton’s Law: a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Change is more difficult. Like trying to turn the Titanic away from the ice berg, the forces against change can be very strong, even immobilizing.
The same is true of our lives. Habit is easy. We hardly have to think about doing something habitual and it is done, like turning on automatic pilot. Sometimes things are so habitual we don’t even remember doing them and we note curiously after the fact that we did it seemingly absent of thinking, like driving to work or mowing the lawn. Stepping out of our familiar routine, by contrast, can be unsettling, even daunting. For me, when I vary from my routine – whether in a big way or a small way – I often experience stress. I feel I need to pay closer attention. I can’t let go and perform the task mindlessly, easily, and effortlessly because I am charting a new path and need to be aware of when to make decisions along the way. And for me somewhere back in the layers of that stress is always my old familiar pattern: fear of failure. What if I make a wrong decision and suffer as a result, or worse cause suffering? What if I miss a cue for a decision and miss out on an opportunity? What if… WHAT IF?
Every new habit began with change. Just as death precedes rebirth and every end is a new beginning. Sometimes our habits outlive their useful lives and when they do the antidote is change. So if we don’t want to live life in a rut, change is inevitable… and good. Change brings temporary discomfort in exchange for a promise of life enhancement. So if change is inevitable, how can we be sure that a change we make is one that will fulfill that promise?
Of course there are no guarantees. But that doesn’t mean we are better off avoiding change. There are ways to learn to trust ourselves in change – that we will make the decisions that are the right ones for us in the moment we make them, which are the only actionable moments, aren’t they? None of us can predict the future, but if we find a way to stay present to the moment at hand we can make this moment – each moment – a better place to be. And if each of our present moments is better, what do you suppose our future moments will begin to resemble?
So how do we learn to trust ourselves in change? By living each moment mindfully enough to notice what is true for us in that moment. By noticing the cues our bodies provide us as barometers of that truth. By remaining open and curious to what we notice about ourselves in experience so that we hear those cues from our bodies. It all starts with listening – to ourselves – because inside each of us is our own guiding compass. This compass tells us what is true and right for us so that when others try to tell us what they think should be true and right for us we will notice a difference if there is one. Once aware of our truth we can view life – events, circumstances, people – from a place of noticing when it varies from our own truth and then make our choices accordingly, choices that will bring us back into alignment with ourselves, back home to our truth.
This all sounds lovely, but practically speaking how do we do that? Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy is a proven and practical method for moving mindfully through life using our bodies as our teachers. In Phoenix Rising we often work with a sequence of themes to guide exploration of our bodies’ wisdom. First we learn to befriend our bodies and listen to, hear and understand the “language” they use to communicate with us. Through listening we become aware of the wisdom our bodies share with us about us. When we accept that awareness as true in the moment, then we are empowered to make life choices from this place of awareness. We can explore ourselves further by cultivating an ability to discern layers in the experiences we become aware of, letting information from our deeper selves reveal our fuller truth, and then exercise choice to take action from this even deeper awareness. This isn’t a one-time process that we go through once and our lives are changed forever – it is continuous. These themes cycle over and over throughout our lives as we move through experiences. Over time as we make choices that align with our truth our lives begin to transform into places that feel more comfortable, more resonant with our true selves. The stronger we anchor our awareness in this place of inner truth, the more easeful and natural this process becomes, and the easier and more easeful change becomes.
If you have experienced Phoenix Rising then you know first-hand how powerful an agent of change it can be. And maybe you are ready to take that experience deeper by attending one or more levels of practitioner or teacher training. Whether or not you have any intention of becoming a yoga therapy practitioner, these trainings are intensive explorations of your inner self as well as a way to connect deeply with others. If you have not tried Phoenix Rising, check our online directory of certified practitioners, teachers and group facilitators to see if there is one near you and give yourself the gift of possibility. If you prefer a workshop setting and want to dip your toes into a taste of Phoenix Rising, join us in Annapolis, MD on March 15-17 where Michael Lee, founder of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy and master facilitator of experience, will present his new Phoenix Rising Workshops: Navigating Life Change – Meditations from the Mat. It will change your life.
As I personally look forward to a cross-country move next month, including a daunting array of logistical change, re-launching my yoga therapy practice, re-establishing professional networks and personal friendships, and discovering new provider service relationships, I move into this process of massive change with ease and confidence that the new life I build for myself will be a reflection of me on the inside. As such, I know it will nurture, support, co-create and otherwise serve my deepest aspirations. I know I can trust these aspirations to guide me because they are inspired by intentions deeply rooted in the truth of who I am. I feel honored and blessed to have received the gift of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy. What an exciting life to look forward to!
Soon to be located in Castle Rock, Colorado!