Stages of Life

I came across this poem from Portia Nelson and wanted to share it with you today. It’s a perfect example of how we deal with challenges as we go through life… and how conditioned we are.

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THERE’S A HOLE IN MY SIDEWALK
Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
By Portia Nelson

Chapter One
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost …. I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit … but, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter Four
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five
I walk down another street.

It takes us so long to change our thinking and break our conditioning and habits. The ego-mind always wants to be right about the way it sees life.

Portia Nelson wrote this about the relationships in her life. How she kept falling for the same kind of man. Perhaps you can see a parallel in your life? I certainly can.

The shift happens we take responsibility and can see that our actions or conditioned beliefs no longer support our well being.

We can also look at other aspects of our life, and how we relate to changes and challenges. For example: the jobs we take, the food we eat, the friends we choose, the places we go, relationships with family, the party we vote for etc.

Taking this to a macro level, we can begin to see why society takes so long to change… and why our planet is in such jeopardy.

It begins with awareness, shifting perspectives, letting go of the old and choosing a new way.

May we learn from our mistakes and start down a different road together.

Namaste

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Life is like … a yoga class

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There is a belief  that many of us hold, that we have to progress or strive in life. We get meaning from meeting challenges and achieving our goals. But is this the truth?

Recently, I taught a Mindful Hatha yoga class with the intention of supporting people to grow in their asana practice. I wanted them to feel more confident in taking on postures that were out of their comfort zone.

I soon realized that participants have different intentions or needs. Not everyone wants to master a flow series or explore more challenging postures.

In fact, for practitioners who have come to yoga later in life, it may not be possible or advisable to attempt moves that put strain on wrists and knees, or require a strong core and flexibility…. And don’t get me started on trying heated yoga when your internal body temperature gauge is already worn out!

As we go through life our attitude and beliefs also change. Imagine your lifespan like a yoga class sequence.

Life is like … a yoga class

We start with the warm ups and prepare for later on.

We learn new skills and practice them to become more masterful.

We take on more challenging positions.

We keep learning and striving until we reach our peak.

Then we shift attention towards finding balance.

We slow down and tune in more to what is happening in our mind, body and inner being.

We relax.

We let go and take the time to nourish and restore ourselves.

Older yogis, like myself, may enjoy a good challenge now and again, but for the most part, we are at the stage in life where finding balance and appreciating the beauty of slowing down is more important. At the same time however, we must also maintain our strength and flexibility to stay healthy and mobile.

For me, I want my already worn parts to last me for as long as I need them! Muscle strains and  tissue tears are no fun as we age, and can take a long time to heal.

Sometimes I forget. My job as a yoga teacher is to ensure my students are safe, and that they listen to what their body is telling them, not what the yoga teacher wants for them. Tuning in more to the participants and less to what you think they “should” be doing, is key to becoming a masterful yoga teacher.

Let us all encourage learning, and also be aware of when our own ego has taken over the class.

Namaste