Getting 'Aligned'

I am yoga teacher & recently qualified yoga therapist who has been operating in the ‘wellness industry’ for the last 3 years and this is my first ever stab at a ‘blog post’. The wellness industry literally feeds off the sharing of personal wellbeing transformations and journeys. I would guess that as a whole, it churns out more self-reflective online content and social media posts than most; but in the last 3 years of trying to develop a business in this industry I have yet to venture into the world of online ‘sharing’. Why? (Partly because of my protective shell of cynicism that said "I don’t want to contribute to the tonnes of self-righteous wellbeing blurb that already exists") but more honestly, because I have been out of alignment with myself.

Even once we have set ourselves on our chosen ‘path’; the actual daily reminder and reality check of what is really important & what really requires our attention most is challenging.

Each day how many distractions do we put in the way of actually focussing on the important things? On a smaller scale – this might be putting off the most challenging (but generally most crucial) task of the day till last; or on a bigger scale it could be putting off applying for that job that you would enjoy much more than the one you’re doing; or procrastinating on writing that business plan to launch your ‘passion project’ or failing to reach out to those people that are actually the most important.

But we get disconnected from what really matters to us for many reasons;

Often, it’s because of the immense pressure & challenge of making enough money to get by. Then, if we’re lucky enough to be comfortably getting by there will be new, loftier wealth & possession accumulation goals that will consistently replace each previous milestone. The cycle is endless and often doesn’t stop until our health starts to falter.

Often, confronting and acting on what really matters involves exposing your inner most values & views & stepping outside of your comfort zone and that is scary. But so then is being continuously disappointed with where you’re at because it feels out of alignment from your true motivation and drive.

Maintaining our alignment with what actually matters to us is a continuous, daily, hourly, moment to moment practice & one that requires us to be fully connected to what we are doing at all times. It requires serious effort. And to make things even harder, the amount of distractions are increasing daily. Feeds, apps, emails, whatsapps all fighting for our attention. As a teacher of mine – Ben Wolff says – it’s important to remember that we ‘pay attention’ our attention really is our currency. The direction of our energy is one of the few ways in which we can really direct our lives. Even within the limits imposed on it by necessity of our own personal circumstance.

Finding Your ‘Alignment’ These are some tools that I am slowly trying to learn and embody through my own practice (in a very human, cyclical, one step forward; two step back kind of way!):

1. Start with the body

A good place to start is to consider something tangible, physical & gross – like how we move & position our body. Our body gives us immediate feedback as whether or not a position feels ‘aligned’ or healthy. Our body is the tool through which we experience the world around us so becoming more connected to it & more tuned into our internal landscape; allows us a richer appreciation of our external landscape.

2. Find the breath

A key aspect of feeling connected to the physical body is the connection we can build with our breath. The breath – this precious bridge between the physical body & the mind. The most fundamental rhythm of existence.

3. Clear the mind

If we can sculpt & sooth the breath – we can start to affect our nervous system and our moods. Being able to calm our racing minds then gives us the clarity & space to really take in and absorb the information around us and also the invaluable messages our body gives us everyday; allowing our minds to create a clearer image of what is going on – literally from moment to moment; but also on a bigger scale.

4. Perceive more

This is turn allows us to start to align ourselves in a more harmonious way with our experience. Taking in more messages from our body's & clearer messages from our surroundings. Whether it’s allowing yourself lifestyle changes that reflect the shift in seasons – or noting when you actually don’t need another coffee but need to stop & rest. Getting clearer about your needs & meeting them, rather than blocking out your body & mind’s amazingly intuitive & intelligent messages with more Netflix more scrolling, more pints, more [whatever is your preferred reality escape mode].

I am as guilty, or perhaps more than most for vacating my reality for far too many hours each day. Whether it’s meaninglessly scrolling through newsfeeds; or (dare I admit it) the dailymail gossip column, or facebook, I check out to float around in these wells of useless information to detach from my reality.

I also have a tendency to put all my other tasks before working on my own teaching / yoga therapy study. I embarked on this career because of a desire to help people through yoga.  To do this effectively requires continuous broadening of knowledge of yoga practices & health conditions that they can assist with. That this is the part of the job that often get pushed to the bottom of the pile as I run around focussing on extra jobs & side-line tasks is illuminating. Why procrastinate the most important parts??

I need a daily reset of yoga practice to wipe the cluttered slate of my mind clear, to remember what it is I’m really passionate about and what it is that’s actually necessary for me to work towards that. Often it’s not the numerous tasks that I distract myself with in order to avoid facing my reality & what’s important to me. But small steps each day can help me gently redirect each time I veer off course...