Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Sayings like, “When the going gets tough,” or, “When life hands you lemons,” encourage us to overcome the obstacles that life presents. Advice to employ “Mind over matter,” or, “Roll with the punches,” aligns with two core principles of yoga: Abhyasa (practice) and Vairagya (non-attachment). As we practice and connect to the deepest sense of our self, we must also let go of fears, aversions, cravings and attachments that bring us out of the present moment.
All clichés aside, the day before Wanderlust I found myself preparing for an upcoming half-marathon with a long run. Every mile completed seemed to be both an accomplishment and a concession as my mind fought each future step. With every second that passed, I fantasized of being under the Whistler sunshine on my yoga mat away from the current struggle of this 10-mile run. Fast-forward to today at Wanderlust only 15 minutes into my first class, and I was already craving the bliss of savasana. I’m guessing whoever said Yoga was easy never took a 2 hour arm balance and hip opener class. While my body kept reminding me how strong and healthy it was, carrying me through yet another challenge, my mind defied me with each breath.
There is a fine, yet distinct difference between challenging ourselves and engaging in negative self talk. Negative thoughts build the walls within our minds that prevent us from realizing our potential. Here are three ways to defeat mental barriers in any tough situation:
- Meditation: Through meditation we reconnect with our sense of self by slowing the mind and heightening our consciousness. Acknowledging thoughts as they arise, we clear our subconscious minds building mental fortitude with each round of breath. With continued practice, meditation can prepare us for any challenge. When we overcome obstacles, we realize our inherent healing powers and gain the strength to tackle other similar challenges in the future.
- Positive Affirmation: Reverse negative self talk and create a positive mantra that will carry you through any tough situation. By remembering how great you felt at the end of your last challenge, you can refocus your attention on a positive activity and outcome. Affirmations can be a visualization of what you hope to achieve, an inspirational quote, or a mental pat on the back. By flipping our mindset, we can turn our weaknesses into opportunities.
- Gratitude: Give thanks to your body for its strength and its gift of movement. I often remind myself of times when I have not been well enough to tackle that long hike or yoga class, and give gratitude to the current moment’s abilities. Shifting our focus from our short comings and what we don’t have, we realize how much we do have and what is really important in life.
It takes a certain level of vulnerability to be in the present and accept that this too shall pass. We have the chance to change the fabric of our thoughts, defeating our self-doubt, getting out of our head, and launching into the present. Settle in with your breath as you hold that warrior pose for another couple minutes. Share a smile with those around you reminding them to honor the struggle as we forge ahead on the path to stronger bodies and more flexible minds.
Cameron Cler began practicing yoga to elevate her flexibility and endurance for ballet, but soon the physical practice became like a way of life, complete with spiritual growth, mental flexibility and emotional acceptance. Now, the financial consultant and constant traveler is also a registered yoga teacher in San Francisco, who channels her inner yogi to mitigate the stress of working in the corporate world and of life in general. Her passion is cultivating wellness and sharing travel stories, yoga poses, healthy recipes, wellness apps, good books and restaurant recommendations with her friends, family and students.