Everybody loves a little Bob Marley, right? His music is so beautiful, soulful, fun, and relaxing. And some of his lyrics are really provocative. I love this one: “Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?”. In today’s culture, I think we often allow ourselves to stay so busy that we never even give ourselves time to ask these sorts of questions. To really look within and think about where we are, whether we are happy, whether there are changes we would like to make, and how to go about doing that. Instead we just mindlessly run from one engagement to the next, accepting this as our life, and not really thinking any more about it.
I know, because I used to be that way big time. About 8 years ago or so, I went to an all day yoga workshop with my step-daughter, who is actually the one who got me started in yoga in the first place (thank you, Erika!). It was a really great workshop with an amazing international teacher who was visiting Arizona. During one of the breaks, Erika and I were working on some of the things we had just learned, and I was watching her do a posture and trying to help with the new alignment tips. The leader of the workshop saw us, and came over, saying “Are you a yoga teacher? You should be a yoga teacher”, to which I sort of scoffed and said “Yeah right, I wish!”. He looked puzzled, and said “Why not?”. And I said “I’d have to quit my real job”. “Being a yoga teacher IS a real job”, he replied. I felt like such a dick. I didn’t mean to suggest that it wasn’t, but rather just that it wasn’t my real job. But that moment transformed me. I thought “well why can’t it be my real job?”. Just because I trained for 10 years in medicine and had then been building my practice for some years too, did that mean that I had no choice in the matter? That I had to do that forever, and couldn’t change gears and have a second, different career? I mean, why not? And that was the moment that opened my eyes to the possibility of truly changing my life to whatever I wanted it to be. To whatever would really make me happy and fulfilled.
Yoga encourages us to really look within. People often say yoga isn’t a “work-out”, it is a “work-in”, and this is a perfect description! Yoga encourages us to take the time to really feel our inner bodies AND to really listen to our inner wisdom, or intuition. This is sort of the opposite of mindlessly running around like chickens with our heads cut off. If we take the time to really listen and feel, we can then learn what we need to do next. Maybe nothing needs changed. Maybe we are perfectly happy and healthy and we are doing everything right. Then we just keep on as we are. But probably, for most of us, there are at least a few areas in which we could improve, or where we could develop better habits to make us healthier in body and/or mind. So give yourself some time to really think about what is most important. What really brings you joy? What fulfills you and makes you feel most content at the end of the day. What makes you feel your best? Maybe it is super simple, like watching your kids play football in the backyard. Maybe it is your work. Maybe it is having a quiet glass of wine at the end of a busy week with your partner and sharing your deepest thoughts. Maybe it is growing a garden, or learning to cook healthier foods. Maybe it is preparing for a 5k, or some other fitness outlet, or taking some classes on-line or at your local community college. As strange as it sounds, use your cancer as an opportunity to take a time-out and really look and listen to what you want and need, and then make the effort to prioritize accordingly. If you are really busy, maybe you need to cut some things out of your life to make time for the things you want to do? Stop watching tv, or looking at social media? Set better boundaries at work and stop staying late? Stop reading Leona’s blog (No! LOL). And you don’t have to do it all in one day. Little by little, work toward the things you want. Even if takes months or years. Your mental and physical health is in your hands. Empower yourself to take control.
So find some time this week, whether it is on your mat or somewhere else. Open your eyes, and look within. Are you satisfied, with the life you’re living?