Like love, yoga expands from the inside out, and like yoga, we do the same. We are not here to be small. We exist in an ever expanding universe and are meant to expand with it. We are meant to expand our horizons, our consciousness, our minds, our hearts and in doing so, we reach our fullest potential. Expansion is the act of boldly moving from our comfort zones and what we know to our discomfort zones, the unknown. This type of growth requires openness – to new ideas and experiences, to setbacks and to letting go.
“We are not here to be small.”
This month we celebrate expansion at Yoga Life, we celebrate moving from the inside out, to waking up each day with the mantra “to be better” and to grow – emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, in our capacity to love and to feel. For asana (poses) we celebrate expansion with bridge and wheel. Bridges enable us to safely cross through potential hazards, wheels as perfect circles represent the infinite, the possibilities, they go on and on. Both are backbends and backbends are heart openers–may you grow forward, boldly, with open hearts and open minds!
An Expansion Plan
We’ve always found yoga to be a balance between making things happen and letting them happen. Expansion and growth can be very much the same. Here are some thoughts for starting your journey and walking, jogging, running and skipping along the path, or off of it:
Intention – It all begins with intention. It is the force that binds us to act, a proclamation we make or a specific goal we set. Intention is a conscious statement to get started and to stick with it. And please don’t think this needs to be super profound, in fact, make it tangible and keep it simple – I will be better, I will be present…
Consistency – The Sanskrit word Abhyasa means a constant and determined practice. It’s sticking with something, working through setbacks and more than anything, being consistent. Some things come easy (and some are lost easily) but the things we most cherish often come through hard and consistent work. Whatever or however you’re looking to grow, make sure you show up and do so regularly.
Openness – Growth is an act of openness. Exploring new ideas and experiences, seeing things from another perspective. Expansion really does represent moving from the known to the unknown and if we shut ourselves off to what we don’t know, we limit.
Letting Go – How often do we try, try and try to make something happen – we set our intention, we consistently take action – yet the results just don’t seem to come. We need to let go. Letting go can be done on so many levels:
– Vairagya is a Sanskrit word for letting go of attachment to the end result. Celebrate the process and stay consistent you may already be getting exactly what you need!
– Let go of timelines – there are hard deadlines and there are self-imposed deadlines, often times we make those self-imposed deadlines unrealistic. By all means, set goals and monitor your growth, but don’t throw away all your efforts if you haven’t quite reached them in the timeline you expected.
– Take a step back – sometimes you do need to take a step back, a hiatus. Simple example, how many times have you tried to remember that name or that solution to a problem and you think and you think and you think and it just doesn’t come to you. Then you hop in the shower or go for a walk get your mind off of it and like “poof” like magic it comes to you. Warning: the challenge here is starting up again so be mindful of when stepping back has become stepping away
Fail Gracefully and Spectacularly – With the exception of test results from our doctor, no one likes to hear something came back negative. As we strive to expand, there will be setbacks along the way. At the risk of sounding super cheesy, there is a lesson in every failure, an opportunity to grow. We cannot control our situations, we cannot control how the world responds to us, the one thing we can control is our response to these failures and it starts with how we handle failure itself – be angry, be determined, be crushed but also be graceful, be vigilant, be good enough, get back up, try again.
Dream – Last and most, dream big. With all of our growth and potential, there are limits, for example, limits to what we can do physically or even scholastically, but your imagination is limitless. Give yourself the gift of using your imagination to its fullest – through our imagination we expand our horizons and our perspectives. We open ourselves up for growth and expansion.
May you be filled with loving kindness, May you be well,
May you be open and graceful,
May you expand to your most majestic Self.
Riffing on a Buddhist meditation shared by Jack Kornfield in A Path with Heart. Feel free to meditate on these words, repeating them silently to yourself, substituting in the word “I” for “you”.
Heart image above created by David Patterson from his original pastel paintings