By Mary Boutieller
When we change the lens through which we view the world, worry melts and life provides so many opportunities to find hope and love and gratitude and joy.
As last month melts into the past and September’s promise appears on the horizon, I am finding myself feeling uncertain and uncomfortable about where we are (collectively) and where we are going. This year has caused such unexpected upheaval in our lives. We continue to negotiate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic as we examine who we are and where we stand on issues such as racism, equality, love and division. Sometimes, this ambiguity breeds fear, indecision and hesitation, in part because we can’t predict what will happen next. And that, my friends, is really unsettling. As humans, we tend to like predictability. It gives us a sense of assurance that we know what is coming next, relieves a lot of stress, and allows us to concentrate on more important things. And right now, it’s really hard to predict much of anything!
I’ve noticed that, even with all of my blessings and privilege and opportunity, I am having trouble finding and holding on to a sense of peace and joy that I previously took for granted. It’s as if the undercurrent of worry isn’t allowing me to see all that is here and now right in front of me, begging to be noticed and absorbed and felt. I learned a long time ago that pushing these feelings aside doesn’t fix anything, so I just allow the waves of up and down, worry and peace to move through me, like a patient observer waiting for the rest of the story to be revealed.
In truth, when I allow myself to stop filling in the spaces between thoughts, between actions, and just wait, I hear the birds chirping, I see the multitude of clouds moving across the endless sky, I see the stars twinkling at night and marvel at the incoming storms, here one moment and gone the next. If I can let go of the needless and unproductive worry about what might happen next, I can hear the love in someone’s voice, I can take in their smile and see how happy they are to see me, even if it is on Zoom! I can appreciate all that I have and all that I am in this particular moment, and I can remember that we are way more resilient than we think we are.
I began to think about those who survived our world’s wars, about past pandemics, tragedies and illnesses that I cannot fathom. I thought about those who came to this country on a prayer and a dream of something better, leaving behind all they knew in hopes of a better future. I thought of those who have suffered great loss and been tasked with picking up the pieces of their lives so that they could start over, and I thought about the strength, courage and determination it takes to keep going even when it seems insurmountable. I thought about all the people who go to work every day and see what they see and do what they do without letting it be all-consuming. I thought about those same people, after a rough and ragged day, touching a bush or tree outside their door and allowing all the angst to reside there for the night so they didn’t take it home with them. I thought of my own mother who raised five children on her own and struggled much of her life so that I could be here right now living the life that I am living.
Perspective changes everything.
Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Sometimes when a thing is right in front of us—the proverbial “forest for the trees”, we can’t see around it. When that happens, it becomes necessary to step back a bit and see things from a different point of view.
From the 10,000-foot-view, I can see all the promise and beauty and hope in the world, like the story of Amy Jake and family who planted “Don’t Give Up” signs all around their community in response to several suicides. Her story is here: https://www.dontgiveupsigns.com/our-story. I can appreciate the older gentleman who said “good morning” to everyone in his path with such genuine enthusiasm that it shifted my whole day. I can see that, even in the midst of struggle, we are all truly in this together—a tapestry of infinite possibilities.
Amy’s signs went viral and helped so many remember that they are enough and we are all enough, and that it takes so little to impact another’s life in a positive way. She spoke her truth from her heart and followed through on an idea that almost seemed silly…but she did it anyway. I wondered how many times I didn’t do something because I thought it would be silly? And I wondered how many times we have all let joy slip through our fingers because of fear or uncertainty or image? Why do we hesitate?
As I sort through these thoughts and feelings, I realize that there are more moments of joy in my life than I’m giving credit. When I teach yoga, pure joy! When I hug my husband or talk to my family or laugh with friends, there’s more. When I read about what’s right in the world, my heart grows. When I change the lens through which I’m viewing my world, worry melts and this life provides me with so many opportunities to find hope and love and gratitude and, yes, joy.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” May we strengthen our resolve, find joy in the little things, keep everything in perspective and sing, even during those times when the song in our hearts feels a little muted.
Mary Boutieller is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching yoga since 2005. Her work experience includes 22 years as a firefighter/paramedic and 10 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Mary’s knowledge and experience give her a well-rounded understanding of anatomy, alignment, health and movement in the body. She is passionate about the benefits of yoga and the ability to heal at all levels through awareness, compassion, and a willingness to explore. She can be reached at: SimplyogaOm@gmail.com.