|I hope you had a smooth entry into 2020 and transition through the winter. I know it’s not over yet, and many of us have dealt with seasonal sickness.
Yet winter is also the softest time of the year; even the snow itself (if you have some where you are) comes with a softer pace and quietude different from rain. Because of the reduced light and lower temperatures here in the Northern hemisphere, we just do not have the same energy, conditions, and drive to go on with our “business as usual,” which might be hard to accept! (Ask me about it!). Instead, it is the time of the year where a general softening attitude is more appropriate and in tune with the elements and the external conditions. I wish our society would take this into consideration (for example, with lower worked hours in the winter time!), but since it is not the case, it is up to us to take responsibility for ourselves.
This winter, I had the opportunity to learn this. I have been lucky to have had a nice flow with HeartWise with new clients, extra classes, and planning new exciting projects. I started my company exactly 4 years ago, and in the first couple of years I was very thankful and thrilled each time a new opportunity came my way, and I would just jump onto it and go. I feel very lucky, since I was then able to live from it and gain lots of teaching and mentoring experience relatively quickly.
However, I started to feel a shift this past fall. It was hard to accept, but often times my schedule was “too full”, with little to no space for free time. Part of my identity was still going with the wave; “I can do this, I just go with the flow and opportunities”, and thus I kept on taking more extra classes and work. Although I was becoming tired and a little stressed about all the activities, I kept going, because this is “what I do.” Fortunately for me, my body is talking to me so loud that it is hard for me not to hear it. Yet, my sleep became bad for a few weeks; paradoxically it was harder to rest, I spent less time to resource myself out in nature, and I generally felt less inspired throughout my day. I had reached a point where I had to admit I was overloaded with work; so much, that I did not have time to write newsletters and posts, plan new events, and basically do other things than teaching. It was all my own responsibility, since I had accepted these extra activities.
I then realized that I had reached a new step on my journey. I now had to learn to prioritize activities and my own well-being, contrarily to jump onto every opportunity coming my way. While it had been a very rich learning experience to say yes and flow with opportunities, taking responsibility and “un-choosing” some assignments to prioritize others should require new skills, and I saw how empowering it could be for me. But gosh, it’s hard to learn! I come from a family of self-employed hard workers, proud of “having never been unemployed more than 1 day,” and my fear no. 1 is to disappoint and hurt other people. You can then easily understand my struggle when it comes to say No and turn down new work offers.
One thing, however, helped me enter this new paradigm. It was a wise, yet little provoking, probe from my beloved partner: “Is it what you want to teach, overworking and getting out of touch with yourself? Or what is it you want to transmit to the world?”
Indeed, what is the message I and HeartWise are wanting to convey? I felt provoked but also had just received the little shake I needed. I want to help others wake up to their full potential, regain a sense of power in their body and heart, while staying sensitive to the deeper truth, universal support, and infinite softness available inside of us at each moment.
With this clarity in mind, I started to turn down some offers and rearrange my schedule so I intentionally can maintain a sense of balance throughout my week and my day. Of course, I am aware that it is somehow easier for self-employed persons; yet I believe that there always is a possibility to shift and adjust something even in apparently more fixed structures. In Tantra, we embrace our boundaries and the commitments we make (for example, our body as it is, ageing, sickness, having a family, a job, a loan, diverse responsibilities, etc.) and use them to re-discover our inherent freedom. We are already free, but the true experience of freedom emerges within boundaries. Because we are free, we choose what we bound and commit ourselves to. I find this key Tantrik teaching quite empowering.
Last week I listened to an inspiring podcast from SoundsTrue.com. Shauna Shapiro, mindfulness instructor, clinical psychologist and researcher, talks about the role of attitudes and mindfulness in re-wiring our brains, or how e.g. self-love vs. self-blame combined to mindfulness practices affects the chemicals in our brains and transforms how we think, behave, and feel happy during the day. Especially, implementing “mindful softness actions” throughout the day by, for instance, placing one hand on our chest, a light smile on our face, leaning back into the chair, or even saying “Good morning, I love you”(title of her book) to our own reflection in the mirror each morning, repetitively will potentially help change old, self-limiting patterns and other self-critical misconceptions about ourselves.
“What we practice grows stronger.” Since I heard this podcast, I‘ve tried to implement more softness during my day; during my meditation and yoga practice, softening parts of my body where I do not need to engage; in traffic; or even in my own head, when I think critically about someone, the projection I have about what they think of me, or myself! In such little amount of time, I already noticed tremendous effects including an increased sense of ease and flow in my body and my mind.
I invite you to implement short mindful softness actions during your day; e.g. as you drive, drink your tea or coffee, walk towards your car or bike, pick up your phone, meditate, or where you feel inspired to do so. I like to think, as Shauna puts it, “Soften 5% (more).” It takes tremendous courage to allow softness and turn away from the idea that softness is weakness or giving up. Notice what shifts in you and around you.
Stay soft with yourself and others, and enjoy the rest of the winter. I can’t wait to see you soon on or off the mat.
Last seats on board Ashaya Copenhagen, 200-hour TT!
If you want to deepen your studies of your body, yoga, your heart, please jump onto our upcoming Teacher Training, 200 hours, at Pakhus Yoga. We start next week! Feb 20. We’ll be a great team of app. 10 people, and there is still a couple of spots left. Call me or write me if you consider joining, so I can quickly get you on board. Click here for the 200-h teacher training.
Back to Nature – Retreat in Slovenia
If you, like I do, like to plan your year a little more ahead, consider joining me for this unique 5-day retreat in Slovenia in September!
Discover a unique, still well-preserved country with big mountains, luscious green scenery, warm and lovely people. Resource yourself with an immersion in the elements, yoga and mindfulness at a very special retreat venue, biodynamic farm, sauna, pool, numerous hiking trails, and breathtaking views all day long! Discounts for the first six sign ups and for trios. Read more about the retreat…
Love & blessings
Cédric // HeartWise Yoga