I’ve been especially busy with 1:1 sessions lately. Students who have been with me regularly for years; people who’ve re-entered my orbit after a long spell away; and some brand-new-to-me folks that I’ve had the good fortune to meet through a mindfulness project with a local business. Whether seasoned yogis or not-at-all yogis, it never ceases to amaze me that the work never changes. It’s always the same. The same work, the same lessons, the same challenges, the same effort, the same magic over and over. Sure, it takes different forms, but at core? Same, same.

Without a doubt, I learn as much or more from those who come to me for reflection on what yoga off the mat can do to increase the happiness factor and decrease the suffering factor as they learn from me. These themes on what that work looks like have repeated themselves over and over in the past month, so maybe some of this might resonate for you, too.

Let go. Call it what you will: non-attachment, surrender, release. Whatever you find yourself clinging to, let that sh*t go. Whether it’s a job that makes you unhappy, a relationship that no longer feels healthy and reciprocal, an old story of who you are and what you can/should do, your big plan for what’s next and what you think that is going to look like. Whether you are clinging to ideas of past, present or future, open your hands, your mind, your heart and let go. Really. Grace has been carrying you this long and will, without question, bear you up as you unfurl your fisted hands and step into the unknown. The grasping doesn’t lead to freedom. It leads to suffering. Every. Time.

You create the story. Your thoughts shape your reality. Which means YOU shape your reality. Which means stop writing a script that doesn’t serve you and find one that does. Perspective is everything, and the difference between “I can’t believe this is happening to me, I can never get a break” and “This is not at all how I thought things would go, there’s something really good happening here that I just can’t see yet” is the difference between unhappiness and victimhood and contentment and curiosity. Which do you choose?

Stop trying so hard. What would it look like to find the balance between effort and ease in everything you do? A dear, beloved friend and fellow teacher recently shared with me the image of a duck gliding across the water. Smooth, effortless grace in motion, right? Ha. Just on the surface. Underneath the water, invisible to onlookers, there’s the mad flurry of constant paddling. Sound familiar? Maybe that surface image resonates with you: moving through the world trying to hold it all together, emanating a calm and steady image that belies the reality of what’s underneath. Or maybe it’s the below-the-surface image that lands for you: the feeling of being in constant motion to the point of exhaustion, just to keep your head above water; plowing forward, no matter the cost. The magic is in the middle. When the duck stops paddling, she doesn’t drown. She floats. Consider the possibility that if you stopped trying to make everything appear okay and/or stopped wildly paddling for a bit and settled into the stillness you’d find the truth that you, too, can find the peace in the effortless glide. 

I think that each of these ideas guide us to a more surrendered way of being: less grasping, less catastrophizing, less trying to do and be all the things, all the time, for all the people. Fall is a classic season for getting caught up in the swirl, so perhaps it’s the perfect time to get back to some of the work that never changes: surrender, mind your internal narrative, find some stillness and peace with just being. And most of all, remember there’s no destination. All of the lessons are spaced along the spiral we get to visit again and again, because just as the work never changes, it’s also never done.

All the blessings, all the time.