A few years ago, I attended an all day business conference with Marc LeBlanc. He was funny, insightful, relevant and the conference divulged some brilliant practices for running a small business. One of the nuggets of wisdom I took away was his insistence that we trust the practices that he was teaching us. He talked about moving to California, many years prior, and hearing the phrase “I just trust the universe,” when asking business owners about their businesses. It baffled him, as you could imagine. So, now, after more than 20 years of coaching and developing practices for his small business clients, he advises them to trust the universe, after their practices.
It’s true. If you are engaging in good practices daily (or weekly) then they usually lead to good things. Sometimes it takes a little longer than we hope, but we have to remember that it’s not time we should be measuring, rather, it’s the quality of our experiences each day.
Living in a results driven society, I understand the desire to want immediate pay off but I also think we’ve done ourselves an injustice with this way of thinking. There are many practices in my life that showed so little results early on that I wondered if they were wasting my time but, something about the experience kept me going. Now, of course, they are practices that I’m grateful for.
Yoga is one of them. Writing is another. Meditation is the boss!
Along the way, these practices ebbed and flowed along with my maturity. In the beginning, my yoga practice was a determined race to get to a class and if I didn’t get to a yoga class, and if I didn’t sweat a lot and if I didn’t quite ‘get that pose’, then I didn’t feel like I was really good at yoga. However, after many injuries forced me to understand the limitations of my body, my yoga practice no longer involves ‘He-man’ like efforts to be the master of the universe anymore. A feat that often left me feeling failed.
These days, I simply move in a way that makes me feel connected to my body. Note MY BODY – not anyone else’s. Not the girl who spent most of her youth professionally dancing who can now wrap her foot behind her head. Not the neurotic, type A, caffeine fueled, green juice junkie addicted to ‘wellness’ student who will do anything it takes to get her foot behind her head. Not the perfectionist’s body, or the girl more concerned with vanity than virassana’s body. Hell, I don’t even move like the humble yogi who quietly comes into class, committed to her practice and then quietly leaves.
No, I move more like me now. A little more quietly, a little less publicly and a lot less interested in how I look. Which isn’t to say that I am always quiet or not very public, or don’t care about the way I look. It’s just not my driving motivation.
Writing has been another practice. Both in the physical act and in the emotional definition of myself as a writer. I am not an author. I don’t have a book, I haven’t been picked up by online publications and my essays have not been published. I don’t submit anything and I am developing my craft, very publicly, on this blog. I can’t bear to read any of my early posts……the grammatical errors and youthful voice make me cringe. I haven’t been formerly trained as a writer – some days I still have to look up the definition of an adjective and an adverb because my semi-dyslexic brain gets things all confused (I’ve not been formerly diagnosed with dyslexia but I’m pretty sure I have it, along with ADD, ADHD and all those other conditions that move my brain at the speed of the road runner….or maybe I’m just a creative being!) So, it’s been a practice every day to believe that I have something worth putting out and then, putting it out there. It was a practice to call myself a writer and then to answer the question “what have you written?” without feeling failed because my answer is “I write a blog.”
However, one thing my practices have taught me is that, if you engage in them regularly – if you really make it a practice to ‘practice’ rather than look for a result, your practice changes, and so do your results. You get better just by the very nature of knowing something more intimately. You gain confidence in what you do.
Besides this, my practices are now the very thing that keep me together. Just the other day I began to feel those big feelings that happen in transition. Having landed back into the U.S.A after my 7 weeks in India, the bitterly cold pervading every space I occupied and my work schedule well under, it’s very scattered, way, I felt a familiar group of emotions start to gang up on me; Frustration, depression, anger, loneliness. These are common emotions during transition and they can easily take you down. But, I have developed tools from my practices.
I know to stop and take a deep breath to diffuse frustration. I know to take action and move to thwart depression’s right hook; getting on my mat, pulling out my notebook, writing an email to, or a calling a friend, eating healthy. I know to jump up and down and scream and shake it all out when I feel angry and I know to sit and meditate and connect with the loving feelings of my heart, when I feel lonely. It ALWAYS works.
I want to share with you a practice that I like to include in my days; preferably morning, but it doesn’t always work out like that for me. It really pulls together the mind, body, spirit connection and it always leaves me with more space to move with lightness throughout my day.
It only takes an hour:
20 minutes of subconsious writing. Just put your most innate, random, fractured, ridiculous thoughts down for 20 minutes. Don’t edit, don’t analyze, don’t screen yourself. Just get shit down. This, of course, is Julia Cameron’s morning pages and I’m a big advocate of these. I truly believes it creates a little bit of space for more quality thinking, when you get the gunk out.
20 minutes of Asana practice. This could just mean sun salutations for you, if you need to really sweat. It might mean a slower, deeper, yummy stretch practice, it might mean 20 minutes of deep lunges, or something restorative, or backbending, or simply just doing the only poses you remember from class. Don’t get caught up in being ‘correct’ just be in your movement.
20 minutes of pranayama and mediation. Start with a few minutes of deep pranayama – maybe kabalabati breathing, or alternative nostril breathing or simply connecting to your Ujjayi breath. Pranayama will center and ground you to sit for meditation. If you’re new to meditation, it might be a good idea to download a little guided meditation. You could also just practice sitting in silence and observing your thoughts. For many, just the sitting is the first challenge.
For me, this entire practice sets me up completely, for the next part of my day, or night. See how it feels for you and tweak it the way you like. Perhaps you would prefer to rearrange the order, don’t get caught up in the way I’ve presented it. Also, feel free to extend the time and make each section the length that you need.
Engage in good practices and then let go. You’ve done your work, now let the universe take over. Trust that.