“Everyone experiences discomfort. Even when you are just sitting still, doing nothing, you may still feel aches and pains. And even if you don’t, if everything is fine right now, you may still recall a past memory, or find yourself experiencing fear of the future. When we relive the past and worry about the future, we miss out on our life. In this way, we are all alike - this is part of what it means to be human.”
Suffering is a word that isn’t brought up too often in yoga circles, usually because it can be quite uncomfortable to have to focus on the fact that we are or have been.
The fact is, all of us experience some sort of discomfort every single day. Our minds may say things like, “These shoes are killing my feet” “Why are my feet so big?” “How could something like this happen to me?” or “Why can’t I look good in this outfit?”
No matter the type of suffering we are going through the voices inside our minds can get especially persistent and annoying whenever we get frustrated, which generally means that we are trying to make permanent something that is meant to change and evolve.
So how do we find the motivation and muster up the strength to continue to practice and break habitual patterns so that we can heal and move forward?
Here are some of our thoughts to help you out.
1 | Recognize your Suffering
Whether it’s the gray hair coming through shattering your self-image or the loss of a loved one and our inability to accept that person’s presence won’t be around us in the future, we are all connected through our suffering.
When your mind continually brings up the same thought patterns, it is meant to be an insight to an unpleasant feeling or situation that you have not recognized. The moment you recognize it, you may notice that the thought leaves and you find some relief.
One of our students was battling self-image with her recent discovery of gray hairs. When she began to accept that getting gray was a part of life and there was no getting away from it, she considered letting it completely grow out. Every time she saw someone with a full head of gray hair, she would decide if that hairstyle would look good on her until she found her courage built up enough to actually do it.
2 | Turn the wheels in the other direction
No, we don’t mean to run far away from your suffering…
What we mean is that once you begin to notice your suffering, lean into it and choose the opposite behavior.
If you sit in front of the mirror, full of habitual frustration, discontent, and grumpiness about your body, perhaps you can see that you already have everything you need to be happy. All of this time that we spend creating our own unhappiness prevents us from seeing the truth: Our body/experience is fine, it’s how we relate to it that is the real troublemaker.
Examine the habitual ways you relate to your suffering by asking questions, such as, “What’s the real reason I hate my/can’t let go of________?” Questions like this can help you understand that happiness is not set on a specific condition.
3 | Pace Yourself
Our addiction to creating suffering for ourselves is a habit that has been continuously fed for a long time. Therefore, these habits won’t be reversed overnight.
Pace yourself to be working on this for some time and when you have had enough for one day, that’s okay! The truth is, if you keep going when you feel like you have had enough - you are still creating more suffering for yourself. So instead, take it one step at a time.
It’s always a good idea to make sure you have a close friend you can talk to about what you are experiencing so that they can keep you on track. Do you have a friend in mind? Reach out to them and agree to help each other!
4 | Go to Yoga
We know what you're thinking..."Of course you're telling me to go to yoga, you are a Yoga Studio!"
As cheesy at it may sound, regularly attending yoga at your favorite studio can help you foster more motivation to continue to change your habits. Being around like-minded individuals and taking the time to breathe, feel the sensations of your body, and notice where you find discomfort in your practice is the foundation for change in all areas of your life.
So do some research on the best type of yoga for you and head down to your local studio. Your body and mind will thank you later.
To feel, is to be human. What binds us together is the fact that we all experience trials and tribulations, and in that connection we are able to provide ourselves and our community more compassion and understanding.
What are some ways you help yourself create better habits? Why does it work for you? Share your secrets in the comments below and help someone else