“Beginnings can be delicate or explosive. They can start almost invisibly or arrive with a big bang. Beginnings hold the promise of new lessons to be learned, new territory to be explored, and old lessons to be recalled, practiced, and appreciated. Beginnings hold ambiguity, promise, fear, and hope.”
Journey to the Heart
I started the second day of this New Year like I often do most Saturdays – on my yoga mat. I have been taking yoga classes consistently for about four years. Three new yogis attended today’s class. One in particular, a woman in her fifties, smiled at me and told me she was brand new and this was her first class. She unrolled both her yoga mat and her story as she sat down next to me. She explained how she was trying yoga for the first time because she had hurt her shoulder a year ago and her insurance company was no longer paying for physical therapy. She decided to give yoga a try.
Soon, we were joined by a mother and daughter pair who immediately made their newbie status known because they wore their shoes into the studio instead of leaving them in the waiting area. I will admit I was mentally distressed by this shoe debacle. Inwardly, I was flailing my arms and shouting “Your shoes! Your shoes! Take off your shoes!” but, thankfully, I got a grip on myself. Throughout the next hour, the women unintentionally did things to further point out their newbie status. Listing them would only make me look like a crazed yogi drill sergeant and I am not that bad. Unless you walk across my mat with your bare feet – that just sends me into a tail spin.
Today reminded me that we all have to take first steps when we decide to change directions in our journeys. The first week of January is often the time people take these first steps into new life terrain. First steps are not easy. Our own first steps as babies are often a year or so in the making with a lot of falling on our tush and hanging onto pant legs. However not all members of the animal kingdom have the same struggles with their first strides, I just learned that baby giraffes drop six feet from their mother’s womb down to the ground. After an hour (I assume spent thinking “What the heck just happened to me?), they are licked clean by mama giraffe and they take their first steps. They are running when they are just a day old. I also learned that the fall, while sounding just plain harsh at first, actually breaks the amniotic sac, severs the umbilical cord and encourages first breaths. Despite this early foray into walking and running, giraffes take two years to reach their full height and stride.
I realize that first steps toward reaching your goals in 2016 are not as literal as the ones mentioned above but I propose we treat them as such, especially if your goals involve getting into a fitness or nutrition routine. Give yourself a pass when your legs are “wobbly” or you “hit the ground hard.” Making changes in your diet or exercise plan are not easy. You will make mistakes. You may feel awkward at times. You may feel out of step with others around you. When I stopped my inward rant of “Oh my goodness! They are wearing street shoes in the studio! The horror!” I saw those two women for what they really were: very brave.
As a baby, we step forward because that’s what we are meant to do. As adults, we let our past mistakes pile up on us, weighing us down as we attempt our first steps into new territory. We second-guess ourselves. Tell ourselves we can’t do something without ever really giving ourselves the chance to try. The new yogi with the shoulder issue – she adapted to the routine, she did her best despite the limits on her mobility. She was impressive. She leaned on the instructor and her fellow yogis for support and we gave it to her. If you can incorporate a friend into your new routine, I would do it. I offer myself to anybody who wants the support. I’ll be awkward right along side you. Use me as you pull yourself upright and take those first steps. Be patient with yourself as you wait to hit your stride – it’ll come.
“Don’t let the lessons, the experiences of the past, dampen your enthusiasm for beginnings. Just because it’s been hard doesn’t mean it will always be that difficult.”
Journey to the Heart