By Janine Scharff
So here I go……… attempting to write my first blog ever!!!!! I have been procrastinating long enough. No more excuses of holiday obligations. The gifts are put away, the in-laws are gone, the tree is out of the house and the eggnog carton is empty (ok, so I don’t really like eggnog so let’s replace that with the chocolate peppermint bark has all been consumed). There is nothing holding me back now. In fact, the only things that might hold me back at this point are my own fears and doubts. So here I sit as far away from my mat (which is rolled up in the back room at the joint) and I am practicing yoga. I am stepping into the unknown and finding the faith and courage within to push myself forward rather than shy away from this new and unfamiliar place. I can feel the nervousness setting in, the heart beating a little faster, the palms beginning to perspire. What can I write that will wow the audience????? Do I really want to expose part of me for anyone to read and judge? What story can I write that will move people?
And it is right now at this exact moment that I have a HUGE yoga experience. BAM!! It is so in my face, “Janine, stop trying to always please others and start experiencing this for yourself.” If I have learned anything from my yoga it is that we are all deserving of a love-filled joyful life. This was and still is a REALLY hard concept for me to grasp. When I first started practicing yoga over 10 years ago and heard this idea that we, as humans, have the right to live a good life I was a bit taken back. Really, I don’t have to feel guilty for putting my emotions ahead of others? I don’t have to be the martyr all the time? The thing is, I really love helping others. I love the satisfaction that comes with pleasing others and making other people feel good about themselves. But I have learned on my journey that I can still do that while honoring my own needs and desires. And in order to simultaneously make myself and the people in my life feel good, I have to engage in more open conversations. YIKES! I have to have the courage and trust in others to share my thoughts and feelings. I can remember back to the first week home with my twin daughters (over 6 years ago) and being on the verge of insanity and my husband being very straight forward and saying to me, “Janine, you have to ask for help. No one can read your mind. Let me know what I need to do to help you.” And so our conversation on parenting began. And it continues on a day to day, hour to hour basis. Believe me, it not sweet and supportive dialogue all the time but there is that back and forth, give and take supportive relationship that keeps us going strong. This trusting open relationship is something that I have to work on and put A LOT of effort into. It is not something to take for granted and assume will be there. In fact, it requires effort to keep any valuable relationship going. You can see that in the breath, right? If you never pay any attention to it, it will be there. But if you grant the breath trust and awareness it becomes so much more, the relationship deepens.
Take notice the next time you unroll your mat next to a stranger at the joint. You can keep the relationship between you and that person very distant or you can give that person your attention, maybe a smile or an introduction. And from that very simple gesture the relationship between you and that person shifts, becomes something more. It may not turn into your most valuable relationship ever but maybe it will alter your asana practice that day in some way, hopefully in a positive way. Maybe a friendship will blossom. You can use your new friend’s breath or asana practice as an inspiration. You see, everyone who has stepped into Saraswati’s Yoga Joint has done it by choice. In my five years teaching there, I have NEVER seen anyone dragged or forced through the doors. We all have at least that much in common, we are interested in yoga and what it has to offer us. So we all make the choice to return, over and over again, to deepen the conversations amongst fellow yogis and within ourselves. We practice so that we can fine tune the listening and expressing skills that we need to create that awesome love-filled life that we all so deserve.
Sometimes my yoga practice is all roses and affirms that I have a damn good life, that it can’t get any sweeter. That I have done a really good job choosing what relationships I want to grow and build and that really serve me. Other times, it is like a slap in the face. The things that surface, either physically or emotionally, can be so scary. Sometimes I even ignore them and “pretend” life is all roses for awhile. But eventually those relationships exhaust me, even pain me, to a point where I realize a change needs to be made. This can be applied to a physical practice. How many of us have exhausted ourselves or pushed ourselves too far in a posture before we have realized something is not right? That by deepening our asana practice we have caused pain, hurt ourselves? And so it is with all relationships. We have the freedom to choose what relationships can and should be taken deeper. What relationships will serve us, make us stronger and which ones are doing the exact opposite, depleting us? This all becomes a bit clearer when we practice the skills of listening and sharing and then apply these skills into every part of our lives.
And so coming full circle here, I come back to the idea of stepping into the unknown. And from the stream of thoughts and reflections I come to the conclusion that the best we can do when stepping into the unknown is to trust ourselves and the supportive community that we have chosen to create. I have chosen to share a part of me with you, my yoga family. I trust that that no matter what, you will receive, honor, and love me for who I am. Whether it is writing a blog for the first time, balancing in bakasana, bearing your first child…. whatever new experiences you have ahead, big or small, I hope that you step into them fully with the love and support within yourself as well as from the people you have chosen to surround yourself with.