30 Days of “A Year of Living Your Yoga” — Day 7: What’s Normal?

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Welcome to Day 7 of my week-old blog series. This series is based on Judith Hansen-Lasater’s “A Year of Living Your Yoga.” While the book has 365 quotes, I picked only 30.

I chose the dates in the waiting room of my kids’ dentist. I rolled dice and arbitrarily chose dates based on the numbers that showed up with each roll of the dice.

I also had the pleasure of sitting with a Turkish grandmother who didn’t speak any English. We managed to communicate in a female, maternal way that transcended any real words. I used a “bee buzz” sound to describe my middle son, a steady hand / ocean wave motion to describe my youngest and oldest sons and then we “spoke” effusively about the World Cup. “Keeek! Keeek ball! Futbol! GOooooooALLL!” I felt like a character in a sitcom.

I will try to keep these posts to less than 500 words. (These words don’t count — ha ha, nor does the quote.)

Here is the quote:

May 19 — Whatever we experienced as a child, we consider normal. What we learned about love and relationships from our childhood feels normal. But just because something feels familiar, doesn’t mean it is healthy. Spend five minutes today quietly reflecting on one of your relationships. Does it enrich your life? If you find that it doesn’t, consider what changes you need to make so the relationship feeds you.

And now begins the time when I wish I picked these quotes intentionally.

So, if you want to learn a little about my childhood, with my mother, read yesterday’s post. I wrote something about this very phenomenon years ago, and it’s one of my most popular posts. It’s called “Familiarity Doesn’t Equal Healthy” and it’s all about codependence and unconscious choices.

Reset to now.

I still do it. I still screw up and attach myself (albeit much less intensely and less dramatically) to people I shouldn’t. I still look for or tap into something in them that will somehow fill me.

That’s SUPER NOT A GOOD IDEA. (I’m trying not to say “wrong” here.)

Lasater writes, “does it enrich your life? … consider what changes you need to make…”

Enrich your life. I see the cursor blinking on my screen.

when i get stumped, i look up an official definition, despite my previous appreciation for a word.

when i get stumped, i look up an official definition, despite my previous appreciation for a word.

So that’s the rub, the crux of this quote. If the relationship of focus does not add to or improve your life, many of us feel the need to cut and run. I am super guilty of that. Find something that stops the hurt or embarrassment or the shame… but yesterday, we spoke of LOVE and I cited 1 Corinthians: 4-7. That means to endure.

But what if it’s not healthy? What if what you learned in childhood is repeating itself now? My parents were terribly self-interested. When I would try to speak when my parents were listening to classical music at volume setting 11, I would be hissed at and aggressively waved off as though they were transported to another planet and my insertion were pulling the oxygen from their space suits. I’ve caught myself doing that to my own kids and it tears me apart inside. The key in all of this is to slow down.

The thing is though, sometimes relationships just aren’t right. We force them and cajole ourselves and manipulate truths and rationalize behaviors — all with the faint hope that This Time We Will Get It Right and yet: it doesn’t always work that way. People are weird. We are complicated, fickle, moody, prone to addiction and subconscious behaviors. The best thing we can do for ourselves is to stay as aware of ourselves and our motivations as possible. “Why do I feel the need to stick by this person who constantly exhausts me?” What are you trying to prove? That you’re a masochist? Better do a self-inventory.

For me, gauging relationships has everything to do with stillness and reading how we are feeling with that person, even without them present: think of the person and the relationship. Close your eyes and put your right hand on your heart. Breathe deeply for a few breaths with slow exhales and notice any tension — ANYWHERE — in your body when you think of that person AND the relationship. You could be dazzled by the person but vexed by the relationship. Feel it and then adjust. Be honest with yourself. Do you expect too much? Do you give too much?

As in yoga, sometimes it’s just a simple shift of a hip, or a turn of the head which can bring us relief or release or pain; pay attention to your shifts, your urges, your repressions: what do you hold onto? What can you let go? Memories? Hopes? Ambitions? Fears? Remember: you can not give what you do not have and if you hold on to the past, you can never let your hands take hold of what’s coming to you.

What was once considered normal might not be at all healthy now. Case in point: my mother’s OB used to tell her to have a cigarette to relax when she was pregnant and tense. My experience as a yoga teacher and student tells me it’s all about the breath: cigarette smokers have that extended exhale DOWN PAT. It might be the nicotine that aids in a relaxation, but it’s really the breath.

Take an inventory, love yourself, admit where you could be misstepping and then act on it. If still lost, you need space and time to gain perspective. Ask for it. Ask for you to be the one who steps forth first; if the space is broken by the other person, there’s your answer. It’s not you. Enrich yourself, you’ll NEVER get it from another person.

Life is all about self discovery. If you miss out on that, you could be missing the point.

Thank you.

(sorry — i went over 500…)

One response »

  1. This is fantastic. So many things I am gonna write on a post-it and stick on my cupboard door (where all wise words go.)

    “The best thing we can do for ourselves is to stay as aware of ourselves and our motivations as possible.”

    “Remember: you can not give what you do not have and if you hold on to the past, you can never let your hands take hold of what’s coming to you.”

    Wowza, Mol. Really. Wow!

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