I am writing this post as the first one on my new website, signifying a new direction my professional life is going. After nearly 8 years of teaching yoga full time, I am starting to shift into social media marketing and graphic design (which is, oddly, what I went to school for). As anyone alive knows, change can be scary and making shifts can feel daunting. During the past few months, I've been thinking about change and how we deal with it and how we can maybe deal with it in better ways. Even as I write this, I am resisting other changes that need to happen in my life so I need these reminders as much as anybody. I hope these inspire you to consider how you deal with change and, at the very least, are an enjoyable read.
Invite the Dragons to Tea
This is one of my favorite instructions from a teacher I had at the Kripalu Center, Coby K. Change can bring up a lot of dragons such as fear, insecurity, and resistance. Often, we try to ignore them or deny them or sweep them under the rug. While we certainly don't want these things in the drivers seat, so to speak, ignoring doesn't make them go away. But inviting them to tea, in other words compassionately facing them head on, can at least take away some of their sting. For example, a big thing that keeps coming up for me as I transition is the "I don't know enough/I'm not good enough" dragon. I'm certainly not going to pretend that this fear hasn't slowed me down from time to time. But, when I have invited it to tea, I can look at it and say "Yeah, you know what, you might be right. I am starting something new and I almost certainly don't know enough. But, I can learn and I can study and I can try and fail and try again, just like I did with teaching yoga." When I started teaching, I felt like I could never be any good and now, I feel confident in my ability to give people a safe and enjoyable class. This exchange doesn't make the dragon go away, but it does help it to be more Puff and less Smaug.
Baby Steps are Still Steps
I have always been the kind of person who takes 20 minutes getting used to the water versus the kind of person who just jumps in. While there are certainly pros and cons to each approach, I have always felt bad that I wasn't a jumper. Sure, I could force it. And maybe that's what I'm really supposed to do and these next sentences are just me trying to avoid challenge. Or, maybe, it's ok to take baby steps. Maybe it's okay to get used to the water before jumping in. It might not serve you as well to linger too long at the edge but I think the point is that you keep moving. All of our choices have some kind of consequence. The more we can be open and honest, at least with ourselves, about what we need, the easier it becomes to honor it (even when it's not easy at all).
This is a really tough one. You can have self-awareness oozing out of every orifice yet trusting that you'll be okay can feel this side of impossible. It's that whole thing of not seeing the forest for the trees. However, I've certainly found, the more that I follow my instincts, the more doors are opening up. As I move away from work that's comfortable but stale into new and exciting but oh-my-god-I-don't-know-if-I'll-be-any-good-at-this work, doors keep opening. It's the kind of thing I've read about in self-help books and on flowery, New Age blogs but always rolled my eyes at. Even when I had my own flowery, New Age blog! And yet, here I am, adding my own version to the mix. If you are honest and committed in your intention, doors will open. That doesn't mean the doors you are expecting to open will, but you will be okay, even that "okay" looks different than what you thought.
It's Ok to Be Uncomfortable
Let's be super honest here, this shit can really suck. It can hurt and flip our life, our identity, our values upside down. As someone who is currently not taking my own advice on this because I'm afraid of the discomfort, it's ok to feel all those things. It's a part of gig we sign up for with this whole human experience. That obviously doesn't make it more fun but perhaps it can make it a little more tolerable. There will be a light at the end of the tunnel. There will be a time when how you feel right now will change. It's that one constant. We have to inhale in order to exhale in order to inhale. Oh, while we're on the subject...
Don't Forget to Breathe
While it might sound obvious, it's amazing how often we forget what a powerful tool the breath is. Even as a yoga teacher, it is so easy for me to get all hyped up on the panic and forget that a deep breath or two will settle the waters. I often think of our emotional experience as an ocean. Sometimes the waters are calm, sometimes there are gale force winds and giant waves. Our breath is like a surfboard. It doesn't make the waves go away (nothing but feeling them out will) but it can keep our head above water. So I'd invite you to experiment with this. Next time you notice yourself getting anxious or fearful, take a few deep breaths and notice what might change. Perhaps create a practice of conscious breathing at some point in your day so that calm, responsive space is more easily accessible when stress comes to visit. We will never have complete control over what waves hit us but we do have control about how we ride them.
Change, like death and taxes, is something we can count on experiencing in this life. Unlike death (but kinda like taxes) we'll probably experience it over and over again. Having tools to help as more constructively and, if possible, more comfortabley will be something that serves us our whole lives. I hope these tips serve you in some way. I would love to hear your own stories or insights around navigating change if you'd like to start a conversation.