This post is a bit of a coming of age story, that thematically repeats itself to this day, as we are never really done growing.
An admitted pleasure seeker, I find it very difficult to make the responsible decisions. I'm open about my proclivity for procrastination, and I often feel that I have a mischievous little buddy on my shoulder encouraging me to see the fun to the bitter end.
This nature has always been diametrically opposite to my aversion to struggling. It is not romantic to me to be a starving artist. It gives me the utmost anxiety to have any type of debt. I wouldn't say that I'm materialistic, but I certainly enjoy quality things, art, travel, and experiences.
So the question I've often found myself asking is how to reconcile this love of indulgence with a devil may care attitude and the Woody Allen worrier??
I was 27, procrastinating the shit out of doing my taxes, just starting my career in specialty food marketing, and feeling very much like the fun years of my life were over. It wasn't that I didn't like working, I've worked since I was 12 and I've always been an industrious girl, but at the threshold of careerdom with 30 approaching, it felt like I was setting myself up for how it would be for the rest of my life. No more unknowns, just doing what I was supposed to do.
It was about this time that I had started practicing at the studio where I found yoga that made sense to me physically and spiritually. One of the first themes that ever felt like it was tailor made for what I was going through in my life was this concept of stability leading to freedom. I was in pigeon pose, just dreading when class would be over and I'd have to go back to my apartment and face all the stuff I just didn't see the point in, the tediousness of adulthood. In the mic dropping way that he always does, my teacher Keric dropped the condensation of the theme right in the most quiet and intense moment of pigeon, and I felt this immediate understanding and attitude shift.
Suddenly, my reluctance to this more structured life softened as I realized that building a strong foundation for myself was actually the only way to set up the space to be free that I desperately craved. If I wanted to be released from the crippling anxiety of how I was going to pay rent and buy wine and go to Europe, I was going to have to get some ducks in a row. And that actually felt freeing to me, to know there we steps I could take to get myself where I wanted to go.
The analogy given in class was about building a house, brick by brick, with walls and supports, and a beautiful winding staircase that leads you to a rooftop view with a garden and pool and zipline (ok, that's how I personally imagined my dream roof). Sure, building that house is hard and frustrating work, but in the end, no one knows that structure better than you, and no one can take that knowledge away from you. Not only do you have a roof to dance on underneath the stars, but you have a place to rest your head when you're exhausted, a safe haven. Even if an earthquake comes along and shakes the house to the ground, equipped with knowledge, you can rebuild.
Stability leading to freedom gave me a new perspective on structure, one that I could find meaning and purpose in. It gave context to the value of long term planning. It is being employed currently as I re-structure my life plan and business. Now, I have a responsible little friend on the other shoulder that reminds me of the Freedom with a capital "F" that I can have with a bit of planning, acts of self-care, and some hard work.
In the yoga practice this concept can be applied to cultivate strength and courage in those challenging moments when muscles are shaking and we are wondering why we chose this hard and frustrating practice in the first place. It can be helpful to remember what we are creating, a strong and stable body and mind that allows us to experience the fullest most free expression of ourself.
We have so many tools at our disposal for creating stability...foundation, energetic engagement, mental focus, the breath. Once this architecture of stability has been realized, the knowledge of it is here to stay. As stability fortifies, we have the opportunity to feel more experimental and open to trying things we've never done before, expand beyond our comfort zone, and discover new things about ourself.
Obligation morphs into interest, then to appreciation, then to devotion. And what's more fun than devotion?! It's basically indulgence with a spiritual seal of approval.
May we see our endeavors to create stability on and off the mat as chance to be very clear and deliberate about what kind of life we want to build. May living to our greatest potential motivate us to keep doing the hard work of showing up and staying connected. May we feel united with our power, and ride it like a lighting bolt to David Bowie's pool party in the sky.