And just like that, the holiday season is upon us – a time marked by pumpkin-flavored everything, family gatherings, slightly excessive amounts of shopping, big-time excessive amounts of food, and an overall feeling of abundance.
Abundance is an interesting and often fleeting state, isn’t it? Regardless of how much we do have, it feels like we live in a constant state of needing more…and in those rare moments when we do feel we have everything we need, the fear of losing it kicks into high gear. Alternating between these two states of “not-enough” and “not-sustainable”, we never truly enjoy the feeling of plentifulness and prosperity most of us are incredibly lucky to have at our finger tips.
Ugh, why is that?
Through some research and a healthy dose of contemplation on the matter, I have come to the conclusion that there are three main reasons for this “insufficiency epidemic”: lack of self-awareness, drive-by experiences, and the economy (I mean, everything can pretty much be blamed on the economy, right!?).
The latter is the most obvious – our economy thrives only if we buy more so we are bombarded daily by messages about buying, fixing, and upgrading everything from our homes to our relationships to our bodies. If more is always better, it’s no wonder we don’t ever feel like we have enough.
But those messages wouldn’t be as effective and persuasive if we took care of the first two problems – our inability to determine for ourselves what IS enough, and our engagement in check-the-box experiences that don’t truly satisfy our need for meaning and purpose.
Let me explain.
All of us have an internal compass equipped to guide us through life in a way that truly fulfills our hearts. However, from a young age, we learn to disregard this compass in favor of what teachers, parents, friends, and our favorite characters on TV tell us we should and shouldn’t feel, pursue, think, etc. Instead of eating when we’re hungry, we train our bellies to want food at the designated times for meals. Similarly, we limit play and creative time to the amount our teachers think is appropriate, we decide who we like in high-school based on who our friends think is hot, we choose a major in college based on what our parents believe will lead to a successful career, and we work hard at our day jobs to achieve the title and salary that meets others’ expectations of us.
Our quest for more is rooted in a deep sense of insufficiency relative to what others have and/or expect us to have. If we never take the time to understand what WE need to feel full and what our own measure of success is, then we will never actually feel full or achieve success.
“It seems we run our lives like trains, speeding along a track laid down by others, going so fast that what we pass blurs on by. Then we say we’ve been there, done that. The truth is that blurring by something is not the same as experiencing it.” – Mark Nepo
I love this quote from Mark Nepo’s book “The Book of Awakening”, and it perfectly explains what I mean when I say our constant desire for more is fueled by drive-by experiences. When we put more value on achieving the goal than in the journey it takes to get there, when we don’t take the time to savor our experiences because all that matters is getting them on our resume, we inevitably end up feeling empty and looking for the next thing.
Makes sense, right? So what’s the answer then?
Yoga, of course!
This month at Yogaleena, we will be focusing on cultivating a sense of abundance from the inside out, right here, right now. It takes practice to un-train ourselves to look outside of ourselves for guidance and approval, and there’s no better place to do that than on our mats.
Our focus will be to listen to our own bodies and follow our own instincts when it comes to moving, breathing, and resting during our yoga practice. We’ll spend time savoring each pose and taking in the effects of our movement and breath on the physical, mental, and spiritual body. We’ll invite a sense of gratitude for all that our bodies can do instead of focusing on what we can’t. And most importantly, we’ll remind ourselves time and time again throughout this beautiful month that we are perfect and enough, exactly as we are.