I taught my first class of the new year today. This is a group of women with whom I work and they were instrumental in throwing me “into the seat of the teacher” long ago whether I was ready or not. Their willingness to be my yoga guinea pigs has touched my heart. Because I work at an elementary school, we have not practiced for the last month. As I told them, reconvening gives me great satisfaction even though we missed the energy and spirit of our fellow yoginis who had other commitments today and could not join us. Which reminds me of something that Noah Maze said at the workshop last month … “Do you know why we practice at yoga? To prepare us for the ADVANCED practice required to live our lives off the mat!” I like that.
The Judith Lasater Relax & Renew workshop was incredibly educational & motivational. For whatever reasons, her words hit me in just the right way and have resonated deeply. One of the biggest themes I took away from the workshop was the importance of LANGUAGING. What we say becomes our thoughts and our thoughts become our beliefs so we should carefully guard our words. Read that again (but slower): What we say … becomes our thoughts … and our thoughts … become our beliefs. So, my friends, we should carefully & diligently choose our words.
Now, consider the words “have to” and “need to.” (Judith reminded us that the only things we HAVE to do is die. Pretty much everything else is a choice.) With that thought, she issued the assignment to practice phrasing our “to do’s” (both verbal and non-verbal) with the words, “I choose to …” So, stop right now and think of something you currently “have to do.” Maybe it’s wash your hair, fix dinner, go on a diet, go for a mammogram, meditate, whatever. Now replace the “have to” with “choose to” and even go a bit further (if it helps) with the “BECAUSE.” Such as:
- I choose to wash my hair now so that I have more time in the morning
- I choose to fix dinner so that my family has a healthy meal.
- I choose to watch what I eat so that I can lose weight that makes me uncomfortable & takes away from my quality of life.
- I choose to have a mammogram to take care of myself and my health.
Think about how the CHOICE of language influences how you feel about any of those particular tasks.
I told a story today about my husband, Brian. He likes things to be “clutter free.” He’s not that picky about clean, but he doesn’t like to come home to dishes or the kids’ belongings scattered about or my cosmetics on the counter. Now those things don’t really bother me — huge surprise for those of you who know me, I’m sure — but I learned very early in our marriage that he ends up in a much better mood when he walks in the door of a tidy home. This has translated into a 20+ year daily 4:30 dash around the house to “pick up” before he gets home with the phrase pattern in my head: “I HAVE to pick up before he walks in the door,” which isn’t really true. I don’t HAVE to. And think of the RESENTMENT just those TWO words can lead to: “I have to stop what I’M doing (emailing, reading, Oprah 🙂 whatever) to do THIS for him. It’s not Brian imposing that thought-process. It’s me! All me.
So now, take that same scenario and put in the words, “I CHOOSE to stop what I’m doing and tidy up because I want Brian to know that I value him & I want him to feel relaxed when he walks in the door.” Feel the shift? It completely changes it from a place of resentment to a place of love, from a self-imposed demand to a free choice. There is so much power, responsibility and ultimately FREEDOM in that perspective. I have the power to create my own experience, I am responsible for my life (not a victim of someone else’s) and I am FREE to do whatever I want. Really, I am. And so are you.
So, if you choose to accept the mission, become CONSCIOUS of your CHOICES. Work to replace every HAVE TO — both verbal and thought based — with a CHOOSE TO. And PLEASE report back. I’d love to hear your experiences.
I challenge you all to CHOOSE your life. Stay strong in your ADVANCED practice until we meet again on the mat.