Last week marked my completion of another 50 hour block of advanced yoga training; which I have been taking part in for the past year. I spent the week really getting to know my mind, including all of its little tricks and all the ways it tries to hide things from me. It was also an opportunity to evaluate the areas of my life that are working and uncover the aspects that aren’t. Overall, the experience has created a desire to share some of my takeaways from the week, not only to put down on paper what I think I have learned, but also to inspire others to become happier and healthier through the process.
You Are Enough
Over the years I’ve realized that the mind is a strange thing; it can be our greatest ally and our worst enemy. The idea that we, as humans, seem innately wired to beat ourselves up, judge our own actions, and hold ourselves back from our dreams goes against all logic, but yet it’s part of our human condition.
That being said, we are not our thoughts and to paraphrase my teacher; all of our thoughts are indeed created by us, but we do not have to be held prisoner by them.
This simple idea was my biggest takeaway from the week. It demonstrates that all of us possess the ability to observe our thoughts and choose whether we want to believe them or trust what we know to be true. This is, however, is much harder to put into practice than to put down on paper. Indeed, I see many of my clients and students constantly tell themselves that they are not “good enough.” The key is to work towards the realization that you are enough and you are not your thoughts. Once this shift in thinking is takes place, your outward life quickly begins to reflect this inner change.
To many of us the idea of choosing which thoughts we want to listen to and which thoughts we want to ignore is very foreign, but in reality it is something we can all do very well. I believe that those who think they can and those who think they cannot are both correct. I choose to believe that I can choose my thoughts. How about you?
Take Charge of Your Destination
“Who’s driving the bus?” my teacher probes. In other words, are you the one determining where you want to go and what you want to achieve in your life, or is something else driving the bus for you?
Is your life being steered by the fear of failure, loss, success or even the fear of achieving your wildest dreams? If you answered no, stop reading now; those that have all they have ever dreamed of are already driving the bus and in control of their own destinies. If you answered yes, and like me, feel as though you have spent years as a back seat driver, watching as your life spirals out of control, it might be time to consider taking charge. For when we expect to arrive at a desired place in life, while simply being a passenger along for the ride, can we really expect to end up where we wanted to go? It’s not until we choose to take the wheel and pick our own destination that we can achieve our true desires.
When I realized I wasn’t driving the bus I realized some pretty heavy things; I saw that my desire to avoid success and my fear of having to own my success was actually greater than my desire to be successful. Talk about fear running my life, what a powerful realization.
Identify Your Desires
We all have the ability trick ourselves so well when we hide the real reasons we don’t have what we want from our consciousness. What most of us don’t know however, is to ask ourselves the real question: “Why don’t I have what I want?”
Knowing what you want (and even what you don’t want) in life is fundamental to success and happiness; having a destination is the key to arriving.
The power in knowing what you want then gives you the opportunity to ask yourself what’s holding you back. Once these obstacles have been identified and understood you can work towards clearing them out of the way. The process of identifying your desires, then identifying your obstacles will be begin to lead you down the path of true self-discovery. I, like the majority, strive for emotional and financial success, but was constantly plagued by self-deprecating thoughts like “I don’t know how to make money,” and societal stereotypes: “yoga teachers aren’t supposed to want material possessions.” These obstacles, or excuses, were just my mind’s way of hiding the real reasons I was holding myself back, my fear of failure. I was “protecting” myself from taking the necessary risks to become successful. Why? Because my mind knew that once I tasted success, I would then be forced to face even deeper fears. It wasn’t the success my mind was protecting me from, it was actually the fear of losing success that I was afraid of. This was my deepest fear, one that I watched in my family repeatedly in my childhood.
It’s important to not blame or judge your mind for hiding the deep fears your heart holds around its true desires.
It is also key to tread lightly with compassion for yourself while on the road to self-discovery. The road can be convoluted, with many bumps, especially if you’re not driving the bus.
So, take your time and listen to your inner truth. My hope is that each of you reading this now have a little more insight and a little more patience with yourselves as a result. Understand that it isn’t always easy to take the wheel and own your life, but in the end that is what I believe we are all put on this earth to do and achieve.
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Nick Palladino-King teaches students and clients how to reduce stress, to increase happiness and to elevate health through yoga, wellness coaching and strength training.