By Mary Boutieller
Who else will be the one to give us permission to take care of ourselves if not us?
Listening to soft music playing in the background, I find myself filled with easy gratitude —for the beautiful weather outside, for craft days with the “girls”, for the untold hundreds of things I take for granted or don’t notice with enough consistency, and for this moment. How often do we miss these moments while thinking about other things?
As I sit writing this article, I’m doing my best to stay in the present moment. My thoughts swirl from one idea to another, yet land on nothing in particular. So I wait, patiently, until what is needed spills out from a place I cannot name with any certainty. Imagine if we could do that on a more regular basis—just wait for the inspiration that arises from deep within. What would it feel like if we allowed our conversations to come into being naturally; if we sat in another’s presence without wanting to do something else; if we moved into our yoga poses by asking what our bodies truly need instead of what was instructed? What if we really just paused—to take a breath, to feel the emotional toll of loss, to say what’s in our hearts, to hug someone fully, or to give that same someone or something our fullest attention?
I’ve heard the saying that we are not “human doings”, we are human beings and, yet, it can be a struggle to just be—to not always have a goal or an end in sight. I tend to be a multitasker (and we know that doesn’t really work), yet I find that when I do one thing at a time, I feel much calmer. We all know this, and yet we push and pull, reach and tug at ourselves, our bodies, our relationships because it can be uncomfortable to just be inside our own skin. Today, I spoke with a friend about how nice it would be to get a relaxing massage and we both laughed, because it’s rare for me to just relax…there are things to accomplish, even at a massage! And as I said this, I thought that a relaxing massage, bath, walk, talk…is probably exactly what I need most of the time. Who else will be the one to give us permission to take care of ourselves if not us?
Over that last year, I have let go of some of the obligations that weren’t bringing me joy. And I noticed that, for each thing I let go of, my breath got a little easier, the tension in my belly eased up, and my sleep improved. With more space in my life, I’ve been able to take longer walks, enjoy a hot bath, play and read more…all things that nurture my soul.
What’s amazing to me is that we already know what we need. We hear the voice of our hearts; we feel the tension and tiredness in our bodies. It may be obvious or it may be subtle, but surely it’s there. What is the thing that you know you must do? What is it that you have been doing that no longer serves your highest and best good and is it time to let it go?
Lately in the middle of an exercise walk, I’ll sit down on a bench and take in the scenery or pause longer than normal to look at the intricacy of a flower. I’ve been purposely pausing—to look at the clouds, feel the warmth of my husband’s hand, to draw gratitude deep into my bones. Life feels particularly fleeting these days, and I think the antidote to this is to slow down a bit and take time to notice the wonder around us.
Yoga teacher Ganga White said, “Yoga is more about learning and refining a lifelong process than merely reaching goals.” Yoga can be a beautiful metaphor for life. How we move in and out of poses and how we approach our practice is a lot like how we approach our lives. Do we do so with care or aggression, as part of the journey or with only a destination in mind? Do we love the questions enough to stay, and can we wait for the answers to come when we are ready?
Poet Donna Faulds wrote, “Just for now, without asking how, let yourself sink into stillness. Just for now, lay down the weight you so patiently bear upon your shoulders. Feel the earth receive you and the infinite expanse of sky grow even wider as your awareness reaches up to meet it.”
Living fully, moment by moment, allowing more space for what we need, letting go of what no longer serves us, finding joy in the simple things, appreciating everything—this is how we were meant to be.
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.