In the heat of revved-up current information barrages, lists make sense. We can scan and absorb them faster than denser prose. I recently visited some of my favourite lists. And I don’t mean the ones for groceries and yard care.
No, I mean the ones that give me a thinking tune-up and catch me at mind tricks that don’t serve me well.
Here’s the current check list,
1. Watch out for your need to be the authority.
Ouch! How many times do I have to remind myself that it’s better to be kind that right? We have a running joke in our community that if something will fade by next month, it’s small stuff and we practise letting it ride away. Who needs to pump up egos?
2. Let the urge to control morph into acceptance of things as they are.
The summer Olympians frequently reflected after their event that they tried too hard and they wished they could have gone with the flow. My friend Debbie says that she has stopped being a really good striver. She still introduces newness into her life but she feels looser and more playful without straining her reach.
3. Release blame.
Practising forgiveness is its own reward. Blaming gives power to the past or to someone or something else. Do better than that by examining your role in a set-to and easing into forgiveness. Feel the sweet release from the intensity of struggle.
4. Abandon limiting beliefs and negative self talk.
Don’t believe everything you tell yourself. Our personal stories about life’s meaning are made of the web and woof of childhood imprints. Early conditioning shapes our values and responses to events. As we mature in our yoga practice and adopt values in line with the universal principles, negative early imprints become less powerful.
But under pressure we tend to default messages of childhood. Unless we recalibrate and remind ourselves that living the guidelines of non-harming, starting with ourselves, is both our duty and pay-off for courage and positivity.
5. Live life to your expectations.
The study by an Australian nurse working in Hospice care went viral because it encapsulated the regrets those coming to the end of life spoke about consistently. Number one on that list was not having lived one’s own choices.
We are coaxed into thinking that we need to live as if we were prosperous, happy and content. But the current markers have been skewed by the dominant system that measures in consumer goods or what has been called conspicuous consumption.
What would it be like to step out of that trap and claim our own vision of a purposeful, engaged and happy life? Start by imagining such a life.
6. Relieve yourself of excuses, labels and complaints.
My current bogey-woman is the aging factor. It sounds like this: at my age (!!), I should not expect to be able to _____ (fill in the blank).
What’s your excuse for not doing something to the fullest of your capacity? What labels and complaints do you use to release yourself from your potential? Vivekananda, the great Indian Yogi, wrote “Release anything that weakens you”.
A dear friend and colleague living in her seventh decade has cancer, teaches yoga, manages a challenging personal life and smiles ruefully sometimes but never complains or excuses herself. She inspires her students and those who witness the rock-solid courage she exemplifies.
I want to be her when I grow up… which leads to the last item on the list:
7. Find people who inspire and encourage you.
Strength in adversity has the power to move us. Clarity of thinking and kindness feed our better selves. Invite people into your life who live the values you are encouraging in yourself. Positivity is contagious and has limitless expression.
Create your own list. Maybe share it with friends and colleagues who can remind and support you.
Kelly Murphy is owner of a yoga studio in Nanaimo.