By Matt Jelfs
You know when the mask begins to crack. The mask you’ve worn for so long no longer feels comfortable. Not that it ever truly did, but now for some reason you cannot pretend it’s okay.
Once the mask has cracked, things cannot and will not remain the same. Though for a while you may resist, inevitably, change is coming.
The cracking of the mask occurs when it is no longer possible or desirable to conceal the true nature of who and what you are. It happens when you realize that your old ways of being, thinking and doing belong in the past.
It comes when you acknowledge that who you’ve been so far is a relic of your old, limited and conditioned self, and that it is time for change. To paraphrase those oft quoted words of Anaïs Nin, “The day comes when the risk to remain tight in the bud is more painful than the risk it takes to blossom.”
And when that time for change comes, you will not be able to rest easy until you’ve taken action. Though there may be those around you who do not understand the path you’ve chosen, or who are threatened by your new disregard for convention, do not be perturbed.
Remember that fortune favors the brave, that on your deathbed you want to look back and know you had the conviction to follow what was right and true.
It is all too easy to fall into the trap of passively accepting a lack of fulfillment in our lives. It’s the path that rarely brought anyone a deep sense of meaning, but it can seem it’s what is expected of us, and it’s reinforced by the cultural narratives that surround us.
No one warns of it’s pitfalls. For those of us not clear enough in our minds about how we want to live, or not strong or confident enough to do anything about it, the path of mediocrity sucks us in.
Like a black hole that consumes whatever has the misfortune of straying too close, we too are pulled towards a destination not of our choosing.
Do not fear the cracking of the mask. Though change is afoot, what you lose you won’t miss, and what you gain will be immeasurable. Have courage, believe in your values, and remember you will not only be doing yourself a favor by embracing a new mode of being.
By choosing this path of authenticity you will inspire others to do the same. You will be a more positive presence in the lives of those you know. Though challenges await, know that nothing of worth was ever gained easily.
Do not fear the cracking of the mask.
For more from Matt Jelfs, visit www.secretshade.com
By Kelly Fielding
I am sure that many of us began the year with a list of new year resolutions – things that we wanted to bring into our lives, things we aimed to accomplish, habits we wished to change and reshape into ones that served us better. Those first few weeks of January can be ones full of hope and positivity. I know they were for me. I taped yoga timetables to my refrigerator door, threw an extra pair of running shoes in the backseat of my car for runs after work, glued healthy recipes into my journal to make and scheduled time for writing in my weekly dairy in black ink that I couldn’t erase or cancel for anything considered more important.
Alas, as the month of January turns to February and then quickens to March, our day-to-day lives are once again overshadowed with obligations and responsibilities, and some of the positive intentions that we set in a moment of sweet hope, tend to be pushed to the wayside.
Discipline can be positively integrated into any aspect of your life where you wish to commit to change – it can mean committing to a healthy diet, to scheduling time to do something you want to pursue with more vigor, to trying a new class or workshop, to saving money each week for something special, to keeping in touch with family, making more time for friends, being a better lover or partner or parent or co-worker. Discipline seen in this light is always a helping hand in our journey to being the best person that we can be.
Setting resolutions and intentions doesn’t need to be reserved only for January first. Sometimes it is good to go back to the resolutions you may have jotted down, check in with them, see how you have incorporated them into your life, and if you haven’t, or you have let them slip, think of new ways to bring them back into your life again.
Maybe you will find after a couple of months that your priorities have changed, that you have new goals and directions you wish to pursue. Like our yoga practice, our goals and visions change and we need to welcome openness and flow.
Life is full of surprises, detours, plans that change and paths that twist and wind, and we do need to be flexible in order to maneuver this course with grace. Yet this doesn’t mean giving up on our promises to ourselves – this is not an excuse to bask in failure and surrender with a defeated attitude. Instead, discipline can allow for creativity and change.
I remember backpacking through Asia and still committing to a daily yoga practice. Sometimes this meant going to a class, sometimes it meant rolling out my mat in an airport lounge, sometimes it meant finding a quiet place on the sand or waiting until the dormitory in my hostel was empty for an hour in the day! I didn’t allow for frustration to enter my thoughts or being, rather, I found this adventure fun and exciting!
So try not to allow the word discipline and its negative connotations to weigh you down. Think of discipline as a positive force that is helping you to willingly commit to following through with the goals and intentions you set for yourself. Rework the framework of discipline in your mind to work with you not against you, and reward yourself for your achievements.
So look back at the resolutions you may have made a month or two ago now – how have you committed to them and respected them? Perhaps discipline will assist you in maneuvering these goals back into a prominent position in your life. Or perhaps discipline will allow you to find a more fluid way of working with new goals and intentions.
Sometimes I like to think of how I always feel when I lay in svasana at the end of class- that absolute peace, bliss and gratitude that washes through me. No matter the resistance I am feeling at going to a class, this sensation always overpowers everything else. By making discipline a friend you become free to watch the life you have always envisioned come more fully into fruition.
Take some time today to re-visit what is important in your life right now. Embrace the fact that these may have changed and formulate some ways in your mind to stay aware and committed on this ever changing path.
By Kelly Fielding
An overnight cool change and storm resulted in the world still being bathed in darkness when my alarm went off this morning. The bed was warm, one of the dogs dozed contently by my feet and if I listened closely, I could still hear the gentle drops of rain falling from leaves, heavy with the captured storm.
It would be so easy to turn off the alarm, to roll over and return to the land of sinking dreams. Alas, I crawled out from under the covers and let warm water wake me under the stream of the shower. By the time I was dry moments later, I was awake and already grateful I had chosen to rise.
Everyone finds ways of being and routines that work the best for them. Often, we know what these are, and the challenge is less in finding them, and more in following them through.
I have always been a morning bird, an early riser, and if I am to catch a yoga practice, dawn is my preferred hour to do so. Even on days like today, I know so well that even 30 or 40 minutes on my mat will do wonders for my body and mind. Wonders that those few extra moments of sleep could never come close to fulfilling.
Yet is always seems to be the case that the patterns and routines that serve us, enliven us and fulfill us, tend to slip through our fingers like grains of sand due to insignificant things such as laziness, self doubt, lack of self worth, obligations to work or family or money.
If we skip a couple of yoga classes we loose the momentum to go back. If we indulge in a treat of chocolate we let our whole week of healthy eating slide. We grasp hold of that one example of our inability to commit to something and we ride with it, rather than challenge it. We forget that we are human and we berate ourselves rather than encourage ourselves to pick up where we left off.
Discipline. For some reason, the word evokes negative connotations, feelings of guilt or resentment. Perhaps it echoes of our childhood and the restrictions imposed upon us then by well meaning parents and teachers. Perhaps it speaks of entrapment or fear, perhaps it evokes in us a need to rebel or conquer. Yet, discipline can exist as our friend, our ally, a partner that we embrace to help, rather than hinder, our efforts.
When we welcome discipline into our lives, it is another way of prioritizing what is important to us. If we commit to a daily yoga class or home practice, this requires discipline, but this commitment is one that encourages us to be the best we can be. When we follow through with these commitments, the positivity and enthusiasm they trigger internally, makes the next day that little bit easier as we train our body and mind to realize that this discipline is changing our lives in a truly beneficial way.
When my alarm goes off each morning, I am always grateful for the sound of it entering my dreams and waking me to a new day full of possibility. When I catch the first rays of light in all of its myriad colors and textures, I have never once wished that I was still asleep in bed.
Life is short and we need to seize these moments that connect us to spirit. In this light, discipline can be seen as a brilliant teacher to help us learn more about ourselves, to challenge ourselves, and ultimately, to better ourselves.
Take some time each morning to ponder something that you wish to commit to for the day ahead. Sit quietly, breathe deeply, and focus on what you can welcome into your life, a commitment to something or someone that will bring you joy, growth and gratitude. Every positive change begins with a single step.