“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Each and every day, I drive the same route to work. I’m lucky, in my opinion, that it’s a short drive (about 15-20 minutes), and I never even have to get on a highway. It’s a nice, little backroads route that takes me by a couple of farms and a few really nice houses. There are so many things to notice along the way, but I must admit that when I first started using this route, I didn’t notice them. For probably the first year I drove it, I don’t think I noticed that one of the farms had both horses AND goats, and even a donkey. Or that one of the houses I passed looked eerily like the South Fork house from the TV show “Dallas”. This is because on most days back then, I drove to work on autopilot.
Do any of you know what I’m talking about? It’s when you drive somewhere, and when you finally get to the destination, you have no recollection about the actual trip. You know you got there, but you can’t recall anything that happened on the way.
That’s kind of scary, don’t you think? Basically, it means that you were so distracted with other “stuff” — stuff that’s in your mind from either the past or the future — that you are unable to see what’s going on right in front of you at this very moment.
I can’t tell you how many days I got to work and as I was pulling in to the parking garage, I wondered how I got there. I’d ask myself things like, “Did I have a lot of traffic?”, or “What did I hear on the radio?”, and I couldn’t answer. I had no idea because I wasn’t paying attention! Then I’d get scared because, if I was THAT distracted by other things, then I could’ve gotten into a serious accident if something out of the ordinary happened that I didn’t notice because I wasn’t paying attention. And then I’d pray to God, thanking him for keeping me safe.
When I first started practicing and teaching yoga, I was much the same way. I practiced the SAME style of yoga every time, and I did the SAME Sun Salutations (either A or B), every time. Because of that, I became in my yoga practice — and in my yoga teaching — the same as I was in my car. I was practicing and teaching on autopilot, not noticing how my body felt or what my mind was thinking. And before I knew it, I felt so uninspired because I wasn’t getting anything out of it. Do any of you know what I am talking about here? Am I the only one who has had time on the mat where I felt like I was getting NOTHING out of it?
Well, I started getting more serious about changing things in my life back in late 2011, when all my health issues started. Something innate within me told me that I need to make a big change in my life. And when I found out a year later that I had Lyme Disease, and my doctor told me I’d have to be on antibiotics for the rest of my life because of how many years it had gone undiagnosed, I got scared. I didn’t want to be on antibiotics for the rest of my life! So I started doing some research, and some serious soul-searching, and decided to make some serious changes to my lifestyle.
Those of you who have talked to me over the past 4 years, since this new journey began for me, probably won’t be surprised to know how grateful I am for everything I’ve been through.
You might be thinking I’m crazy right about now. I mean, how can I be grateful for having a disease I’ll have the rest of my life? One that has caused me to have to give up so many things that I loved. I get it. But hear me out.
When I decided on a more natural route, I more fully explored other styles of yoga, styles that my body could actually do without causing more pain. I discovered a variety of ways to meditate and found several which actually worked for me. I discovered how to be more mindful. I discovered how to be happier.
I recently finished a #100HappyDays challenge, and that was the best thing I’ve ever done. There were so many days during that challenge where I had a lot going on in all areas of my life, and I was worried about so many things. And if I hadn’t been forced to find ONE THING each day to be happy about, I think I would’ve gone on autopilot more than I’d like to admit. But I was holding myself accountable on Facebook, so darn it! I just HAD to pay ATTENTION so I had something good to post for that day.
During that challenge, I really learned a lot about what makes ME happy. I wrote a post about the first part of the challenge, so feel free to check that out here.
I had the opportunity to finish up the last week of my challenge while on vacation with my husband in Aruba. That was awesome, because I had NOTHING to distract me while there, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, spending time relaxing and reconnecting with my husband. It was much needed, and I came back so refreshed! Here we are on day #96 of my challenge:
Doing things like this are so critical for all of us, I think. Because if we don’t, we’re more likely to find ourselves on autopilot. There are a few people out there who are able to easily stay focused on the present, but I would venture to guess that most of you are like me.
So take a look at your life and ask yourself, honestly, how in tune you are with yourself. What is it that makes you happy? Do you feel like you’re growing, or are you just floating through each day, doing the same old thing? If you can’t answer these questions, then you need to commit to taking some time to figure things out. There are so many ways to find out who you are and what makes you tick, so figure out what works for you.
I’m happy to help if you aren’t sure where to start. I’ve got SO many resources, so please don’t hesitate to ask.
Sometimes, I do still find myself reverting to autopilot mode. I am human, and sometimes I let my worries get the better of me. But it’s easier for me to snap out of it, now that I’ve learned so much. I love the quote by Thich Nhat Hanh above, especially the last part: “live the actual moment. Only this moment in life.” After all, that’s all there is.