When else in history have we known so many random details about people’s lives? I know for me, at any give moment, I might know what my seventh grade teacher, my family friend in Sweden, and my neighbor are all having for dinner... right in the same moment. A photo posted Instagram shows her candlelit meal for two. Facebook shows his check-in at a local BBQ restaurant. The third is tagged in a photo next to a giant plate of nachos.
All at my fingertips, like I was there. (Except I wasn't.)
I had lunch with a friend a while back, and I congratulated her for a big award she won at her company. I was so excited to hear all about it when I saw it on Facebook — it was the first thing out of my mouth when we sat down to eat. She thanked me, and quickly shook off her smile and admitted, “Well, that’s not even half the story. What I didn’t post was how hard my year was leading up to that award. I’m exhausted.”
She went on, sharing how her life really was. It was such a simple comment—and I normally wouldn’t think twice about it. But when I left the restaurant, something clicked. My mind was blown as I realized she was right: Despite all our “connections” online, and despite how happy she looked with her award, we never have the whole story. We don’t even have HALF the story of someone else’s life.
An online connection can be great: It inspires a sense of curiosity. We want to connect with something bigger than ourselves. We are intrigued by things that inspire us.
But here’s the secret that applies to our life as yogis: More often than not, we’re reaching for something outside ourselves — seeking a pat on the back, an ear to listen to our woes, or a LIKE on social media, just to validate that we’re on the right track in our life. To avoid going inward (consciously or not), we get wrapped up in the “story” of someone else’s life online, when what we “know” is only a tiny shred of reality.
But what if we just knew that we were on the right track, without a shadow of doubt? What if we didn’t need (or crave) the external validation that we’re awesome?
Believe it: Meditation gets us there.
It improves our inward relationship, and consequently our relationship with those around us.
Meditation isn’t tied to any religion, requires no “body type” or “mental capacity.” You might have heard the word "mindfulness," and yes, the are elements of that... but this practice we'll learn isn't going to make your mind FULL. (If it does, then we have a problem!) It's going to get you into a place of stillness, emptiness and pure awareness. The only requirement is being human. If you’re a human being, you’re capable of shifting the way you live through meditation.
And here’s a fun fact: In the east, meditation and yoga aren’t different. They’re the same. They’re like yin and yang — meditation is as much a part of yoga as downward dog. Our bodies need to be still just as much as they need to be moved. Western marketing just altered things to be more “palatable” and separated the two.
So if you’re loving the yoga classes, and ready to take your practice to the next level, it’s time to stop wondering with a mind full of thoughts. Keep your curiosity. Instead, start wandering down your own path of meditation. Achieving regular access to that field of silence within each of us is the greatest gift we can give our body, mind and spirit.
My alarm went off at 6:30am, and when I opened my eyes, I couldn't see anything.
It was my first morning back from India, and with the sun rising around 10am in Alaska, the cabin was still pitch black when I woke. Disoriented and bleary-eyed after five flights (yes, 5!) and 35+ hours of travel, I laid there and started negotiating.
... with myself.
You've done this too, haven't you? Thought to yourself, "If I get to lay here for 5 more minutes with my eyes closed, I'll make 5 extra minutes for 'me time' later this afternoon. AND I'll go to bed early. And..... and.... [Before you know it] Zzzzzz."
Then you wake up an hour later, realize you missed your first appointment, the dogs are barking like crazy to go outside and you make the mistake of looking at the 14 text messages you've received before 8am.
Yeah. This was NOT going to be one of those times.
I was determined. I shut down all negotiations, sat up, brushed my teeth, splashed water on my face, and found my way to a comfortable seat on the couch, propped up on a pillow. I put in my ear buds in and ignored ever fiber of my being, begging me to crawl back into bed.
I dove into my daily 30-minute meditation.
That decision and commitment set the tone for my life since returning to the USA. After living with a routine in India from 6am to 9pm, out of my comfort zone, totally immersed in the yoga and meditation, I figured if I could bring home just 60 minutes of routine to my life, then my world as an entrepreneur, wife, sister, daughter etc. would change for the better.
I was right; change being the operative word.
For the last 10 years of my life, I was one of those people who, when asked about my daily routine, would laugh and admit nothing about my daily life was "routine."
You guys know this! (Especially if you've tried to set a coffee date with me.) Every day was different, "situations" would arise and I would deal with them the same way I always did, worry about them afterward — exhausted by the end of it, and move onto the next fire to extinguish. Yet, I thought things would get better. I thought my luck would change.
I look back and think about how much energy I wasted on my phone, stressing about emails, or colleagues, taking things personally, or allowing negotiations in my head to run on repeat, justifying habits that weren't serving me anymore. I would resolve to go back to bed, or not go to that yoga class, or skip meditation to "catch up on sleep."
The only thing it seems I was committed to was remaining exactly the same, waiting for the world to change around me.
Flash forward to today, I've integrated a few simple rituals to my daily routine and they've made all the difference. And despite added to-do's, my capacity for growth, clarity, and happiness has expanded.
It's like the saying, "How you do one thing is how you do everything." Logic follows: Being committed — AT ALL COSTS — to a least an hour of quiet time every day gives me the stamina to be just as committed to all the other parts of my life.
The outcome? The world is changing, and I'm evolving with it. And there's one thing I know for sure:
Change is the ONLY constant in life. It's all we can truly count on.
Nature proves this to us every day as the snow falls, every month as the sun rises earlier and earlier, every season as the leaves change and the temperatures rise and fall. So for 2019, I'm committed to change. No more "situations I have to deal with... again." From here forward, there are only "experiences I can choose to be a part of."
Originally hailing from Wisconsin, Mollie is a cheesehead transplant to Northwest Montana, with degrees in Retail and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, she lives off the grid, half the year in a Tiny House & half the year in a yurt — both of which she and her husband, Sean, built by hand. Nonprofit Executive Director by day, Mollie also owns and teaches at Yoga Hive — a chain of community yoga studios in the valley.