We all have felt immense and unusual stresses over the past year. And, it’s no surprise most of us feel we are in the middle of a work or life transition as a result. We are at a “crossroads,” in a way. Whenever we arrive at a crossroads, no matter how smooth or rough the path we’ve been traveling, we are presented with a choice to change course. And so the difficult question arises, “Should I stay on this course? Or, should I move in a different direction?”
Obstacles will always exist on the path to self-realization. But really, all endeavors we pursue, spiritual or otherwise, will require effort to overcome difficult challenges. And so, how do we discern when we simply need to keep plowing forward on the same path to get through the challenge, or when the obstacle is so great we must change directions instead, and maneuver around the challenge?
Unless you could live two lives simultaneously, one life choosing one path, the other life choosing the second, there is really no way to know which path would be ideal. And so from a yoga philosophy perspective, we don’t focus on the end result of the path we are on; instead, we focus on the individual moments along the journey.
Being at a crossroads can be uncomfortable, and we may struggle over our decision of which path to take. Thankfully, yoga techniques don’t only work on the physical body, they also help our minds become more strong, flexible, and calm as well. Yoga techniques (especially meditation) help us learn how to see more clearly the challenges we face by observing our thoughts and our internal dialogue. When we change how we see what is in front of us, what is in front of us literally changes.
The thoughts in our head form the basis for our reality and understanding of what is and isn’t possible. Our thoughts create the words we choose to define and tell our story. Many times all it takes to change your perspective is to change a single word of your story.
For example, we can cross a line (go too far, not usually a good thing), or we can cross an aisle (make peace with a former enemy, usually a good thing). Even though a line and an aisle both are the same basic shape, by changing the description of that shape, we can change the entire meaning of the metaphor, and the meaning of our story. And all we did was change one word.
I therefore propose the words you choose to tell your story are very important, even if the story is just for your own ears.
The next time you feel “stuck,” use your yoga techniques to settle the mind so that you can clearly see which words best describe your situation. Are you at a crossroads, which could be an opportunity to change direction? Or, are you simply crossing a road, making your way over a temporary barrier to your forward movement? As you can see, both sentences offer a pathway to feel positive about.
“Why did the chicken cross the road?” is the start of many old jokes. But have you ever thought to ask the question, “Why would a chicken stop moving, simply because someone built a road in front of it?” Suddenly, we gain respect for the chicken. :)
About the Author
Michelle Dortignac, founder of Unnata® Aerial Yoga, is an E-RYT 500 certified Yoga instructor of close to 25 years, while during a large portion of those years also being a professional aerial acrobatics performer. Her most influential Yoga teachers include Dharma Mittra, Alan Finger, Cyndi Lee and Susan Braham.