A few weeks ago, the theme of my yoga class was, "Dropping the Story." We were asked to reflect upon stories that we cling to and tell in our own lives. For me, two stories came to mind.
1. I can't sit still.
2. I'm not a morning person.
I've told myself the first story for a very long time. In large groups of people or in a situation where I don't have something to focus on, I feel antsy. For several years, I practiced a yoga-pilates hybrid class at my local gym. The last five minutes was a sort of modified meditation. Most people stayed and relaxed. 90% of the time, I left after the active part of the class. The teachers would often encourage us to stay by saying that this five minutes was the most important part of class and I would silently defend myself in my mind.
"Whatever. Not everyone can sit still. It's just not who I am."
It was my story and I was sticking to it.
But my inner guidance system was trying to course correct. It told me that being able to sit still, whether in big groups or small, whether with purpose or without, was something that I needed to learn.
So last summer, I gathered my courage to walk into a situation where I knew I would be asked to sit still: a new yoga studio. That first day, we practiced savasana, or corpse pose. Over the course of the next several weeks, I not only learned to sit still, I looked forward to it. With practice, I had changed my story.
The second story I reflected upon was that I'm not a morning person. I worked at delis in college so I often had to be at work before 7 a.m. even if I'd been out until 3 a.m. the night before. That meat wasn't going to slice itself y'all! I was also a swimmer when I was a kid, so that meant a lot of early morning wake-up calls. But I can never remember a time when I willingly got up early if I didn't "have to." But why should I, I'd ask myself, after all, I'm not a morning person.
But again, for the past several months, something inside of me began to shift. I wondered if I could make myself into a morning person. I started to follow Mix and Match Mama, a really popular blogger who gets up at 4:30 a.m. But as soon as I'd ask myself if I could get up that early, my story would kick in. Of course you can't get up that early, you aren't a morning person.
Still, the idea kept returning to me. Instead of waking up at the last possible minute, chugging my coffee, and rushing to get my son to school on time, what if I could begin my day with a walk and meditation? What if I could write? Enjoy my coffee? Have more time with my son before dropping him off at school?
A few weeks ago, I worked through my ideal morning routine and arrived at this time: 5:40 a.m.
That Sunday night, I named my alarm after one of yoga's niyamas (basically yoga's guide to ethical living), tapas, which in my rough Sanskrit translation means self-discipline. The next morning, my alarm went off. By a combination of self-discipline and what I believe to be some divine intervention, I dragged myself out of bed and went through my morning routine. I won't lie. That first morning was rough. That first day was rough. I was ready for a nap before lunch. For the rest of the day, I felt like my head weighed a hundred pounds. But I also knew that this was part of the process and that it is always darkest before the dawn.
The next day was still hard, but easier than the first day. The day after, easier still. By Friday, I woke up on my own, ahead of the alarm. And yes, just like with meditation and sitting still, I now look forward to my mornings.
I can sit still. I am a morning person. I have to wonder, if I could drop these two stories and write new ones, what other stories do I tell myself that I can choose to retell?
I jotted down a list of stories that I've told myself or that I've heard people tell.
As I've written before in this space, Monday translates to Moon Day, and isn't the moon a great example of reinvention? It appears both day and night, sometimes full, sometimes half, sometimes just a slivery crescent.
Is there a story you've been telling yourself that you'd like to drop? Maybe today is the day.
And now...without further ado...the week of Academic Coaching giveaways! I'll be giving away FOUR FREE academic coaching sessions for college students, one each on this blog, Facebook (The Zebra Coach), Twitter (@karenraycosta), and Instagram (@thezebracoach). Find me in all four places for the most chances to win.
Enter below to win one free 60-minute coaching session. You can absolutely transfer this session to another person, so if you aren't in college but have a friend or family member who is, enter! Thanks for reading and good luck!
This blog is focused on exploring ideas around yoga, career, intuition, purpose, and passion. Please leave a comment. Namaste.