~ awake in this moment, at home in the world ~

Your Own Best Friend

May 20, 2016

You're standing on your yoga mat in tree pose. You sway, you wobble, and then you fall.

What happens next? Do you curse yourself for being a bumbling klutz? Strike out at anyone or anything around you with blame? Look around in agony, wondering what everyone thinks of you now? Or do use your tumble as evidence against yourself, proving once and for all that you're a yoga failure, even after all these years?

The way you respond to a challenging yoga posture is likely also the way you respond to any challenge in your life, on or off the mat. Consider how you respond when you've been battered by unwelcome surprises at work, when you drop that carton of blueberry yogurt onto the floor, or when you utter those words you know you shouldn’t have said to someone you love.

Often the words we speak to ourselves aren't kind or constructive. Yet unless we make a point of paying attention, we often aren't even aware of the harshness of our inner monologue.

What channel would you like to have playing as the mind's background music as you move throughout your yoga practice and your day? The red-hot critical one? The blame channel? Radio defeat? Of course not!

How about tuning in to my favorite channel instead? It’s the one that plays the soothing and supportive voice of your very best friend, reassuring you that you're doing just fine and everything is going to be okay.

The next time you climb onto your yoga mat, consider making friends with your own internal support system. As you progress throughout your practice, key into your own inner commentary. Pay close attention to the thoughts that spin through your mind. If you don't like what you hear, change that inner radio dial until you find a station that restores your sense of ease and balance - preferably one that offers support, kindness and care.

If you find this difficult or perhaps even ridiculously contrived, channel the most supportive and affirming person you know. Imagine that person is right there by your side, practicing on a mat next to you. Imagine what she would say as you move together through your practice, falling out of tree pose, struggling through a challenging back bend, inching your way into a forward bend or two. How does this feel to you? Does this experiment offer clues about another way to live?

Breaking old habits and establishing new ones isn't easy, so keep practicing. And when you've mastered being supportive and self-assuring on your mat, take it out into the world. Watch your monologue as you move through your day and see if you can tune into the music that most supports not just you but everyone around you, too. Find the radio station that brings out the best in life and that evokes sunshine instead of storms. It's not a bad life, having your own best friend with you everywhere you go.

Chances are good that you won't be able to keep this inner support to yourself. Before long you may find yourself growing into an even more gentle and forgiving person than you already are. And in this way, you will strengthen your ability to be a beacon of kindness and support in a banged-up world that needs as many good friends as it can find.