Henry David Thoreau said “Dwell as near as possible to the channel through which your life flows.”
Despite how much I try to follow Thoreau’s advice to dwell in my inspiration, sometimes the inspiration can be fleeting and I am left wondering where it went. I am amazed by how quickly I return to previous states of consciousness or ways of seeing myself and our world. At the same time I am grateful for the awareness to notice this happening and the ability to take small steps to mitigate it and stay inspired.
I just attended a highly energizing and inspiring event. I felt completely overwhelmed with joy and the power to overcome any obstacle or challenge that was presented to me. But now, just a week later I am feeling kind of deflated and searching for the fire of inspiration that was set so ablaze just last weekend. I have somehow internally retreated to my habitual paradigm of viewing myself, my capabilities and the world around me through these usual lenses.
One of the amazing things about some festivals, summits and gatherings like a yoga class is that for a moment we are all able to take off our lenses at least to some degree and see what’s possible when we do. While at this event or when I am on my yoga mat, I am able to get my head above the treeline and see out over the vast expanse of my dreams and realize that I am actually not that far from reaching them. I remember that all that I need to do is plot a feasible course from where I am now and take meaningful action towards those goals. What often happens is that we get stuck deep within the forest, in my case moving my way through the thickness of everyday entrepreneurship and community building that I lose sight of the forest. I forget which direction I am walking and sometimes start walking in circles, working hard but seemingly not getting any closer to creating the change I wish to make happen.
The beauty in experiences that take us out of our usual element and crack us open is that for a moment we are able to suspend our prejudice, becoming free to absorb information, connecting and interacting in new liberated ways. The freedom inherent in taking this type of fresh action creates a positive feedback loop in which after witnessing ourselves act in these unique and interesting new ways, we are persuaded that acting this way is status quo and our baseline of what’s possible shifts just a little bit. Compounded over many interactions it’s possible that we begin to fully believe in this expanded sense of our potential and what is possible in our world. As Jerry Sternin said, “It is easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.”
Practicing asana, the poses of yoga, is a very real way of making this possible. The action of practice, breathing and moving our bodies through the flow, we are literally acting our way into a new way of thinking. No matter how entrenched in the trees I become, my yoga practice helps me remember what the forest looks like from above, helping me stay on course even when it’s difficult to find the path ahead. The action I take in my asana practice is a reminder to dream as big as my breath flows, embrace the vitality in my veins and to live as fully as I can when the beat of my heart merges with the excitement of the present moment.