I have a mantra. I say it to myself daily, in many situations, and it helps me immensely in my life. It’s this:
Why am I doing this?
I don’t even think the answer to that question is particularly important. I just think it’s important to ask. Your intentions may change, they may shift and grow, but as long as you have an intention, any answer to why you are doing what you are doing is great.
I’ve probably had millions of answers to my question when I come to my mat. But lately, I’ve been going through some transitions in my life, and my yoga has been giving me courage and strength to see what my values are and stand by them. My yoga helps me understand better who I am at this juncture of my journey and gives me permission to be my best self. I’m doing this because it helps me hone my ordinary superpowers.
I think humans forget a lot of the time how awesome we are. We have these bodies that will change all the time depending on what we do with them. We are able to learn new things and remember them and then make different choices depending on the what we figured out from our pasts.
We have long histories of food-making. We can learn the ancient art of cooking on this really cool thing we’ve invented called the Internet, which is a way of sharing all kinds of knowledge accessible to almost anyone.
We have voice boxes, and we’ve developed something like 6,500 languages in which to communicate with each other and keep learning new things.
We have brains and digestive systems and skin. We can get information from five different senses that tell us what’s going on in the world around us. Some of us do really well with only four senses.
We also have this cool thing called intuition. Our brains process mostly visual and verbal information, which we analyze and judge based on what we have previously processed and judged.
Our bodies, though, have another way of processing information. Specifically, the digestive system has its own neurological system that sends separate messages to the brain and communicates to the nervous system through the spinal cord. The sensations the body experiences are also a part of our information gathering system, and we remember sensations as much as if not more than any book we’ve read. These sensory memories are what helps teach us who we can trust, who is being honest with us, and whether or not we are safe.
Our yoga practice can help us to release the stuck sense memories from trauma and unlearn some of the messages we’ve gotten from the world around us. When we start to feel deeper into our guts and connect with the deeper brain there, we are organically, naturally strong. When we know, on that deeper level, why we are doing this, there’s no need to worry about what other people think of us or whether or not someone disagrees. Having an intention deep in our skins makes us stronger, more integrated people.
And all we have to really do is pay attention. I think we should give ourselves more credit for these ordinary superpowers.
(And here’s a poem from Christian Drake that inspired this post.)