During the 2020 Golden Globes, talk mostly centered around the fact that Australia is on fire. We’ve since moved on. Whenever I actually get around to watching the evening news, impeachment dominates the narrative. On twitter, my personal feed centers on the current undoing of voting rights by the Missouri legislature. Instagram is a whole nother story when it comes to self-esteem. 2020 is promising, but our world is filled with scandals upon scandals and fires upon fires.
This has changed the way we live. We live to cope and we live to survive. But this eventually turns into a trap. When things are bad, binging netflix and listening to calming music are helpful ways to ignore my problems.
While those things have a place, they are only helpful to a certain extent. When I realized this, I started looking for things that would get me out of bed. I had not spent time looking at my needs. Instead I had focused on the things that were more or less out of my control. That distraction kept me from looking inward and from listening to the sound of my breath.
Prior to the fires of Australia and even before the House turned against Trump in 2018, I had started regularly practicing yoga via YouTube with a yogi named Adriene Mishler. Mishler hosts the YouTube channel “Yoga with Adriene” and offers free yoga practices on her channel for people of all levels of expertise. One thing Mishler does every year is release a 30-day yoga journey. The 30-day journey has an overall theme, and this includes a video produced every day with its own theme.
At the end of 2019, I reviewed how my semester had gone. Of course there were highs and lows. But in thinking about how I acted and reacted, I felt so disconnected from myself. I decided to do Mishler’s yoga journey named “Dedicate” over break. The practice aims to bring people to the yoga mat and help them dedicate time to themselves. Mishler writes in the description that this is time for “uncovering your authentic self. It’s not about re-creating, emulating or copying someone else.”
I can’t accurately share what happens on the mat. Mishler guides the viewer through various yoga moves, some being harder than others, but the experience varies for every person. A pearl of wisdom gained from a practice by one person could be completely different for another. One particular day was aptly named “Courage,” and it required balance, stamina and trust in yourself. One of my more favorite days was titled “Reveal.” While it was not an easy practice, it focused on shedding the armor we put on to survive our day to day life. Each practice included its own challenges, and there were definitely some that I felt more in tune with. But the entire experience, curated by Mishler, asks us to simply show up for ourselves. That can be every other day, once a week or whatever works for your schedule.
I got on the mat almost every day. It is in that regular practice, the time I dedicated to myself, that I was able to analyze my pain and shortcomings. But through these practices we can also see what is in our tool chest. That is where we grow and move forward.
I understand that I don’t have the ability to clean up the mess of American politics, and I don’t have any direct way to put out the fires in Australia, but during a really intense tree pose, I witnessed what I could do with my breath and I felt how my motivation could allow me to live healthily even in a not-so-ideal environment. There are ways to fix the world’s problems, and I will play a part in figuring out those solutions. But what I can do now is find peace and find hope in my own movement and, as Mishler says, “breath lots of love in, and lots of love out.”