I said this during practice recently to a student I’ve been working with for years, as I watched her do a posture that would have felt impossible just a year ago. But if I’ve learned one thing in my years of teaching and practicing yoga, it’s that things that seem impossible are just feats waiting to be accomplished.
From the vantage point of the present moment, it’s easy to lose sight of how far we have come. When we reach our goals, they eventually become our new normal as we settle into our new lives, our new practices, our new whatever, and forget just what an accomplishment it is to be where we are now.
Looking back at the end of a year, it can be all too easy to overlook one’s progress—over one year, or many years. The truth is, a lot of active change can be made in a year (even a year like 2020). The individual days may feel monotonous, but when you put them all together you can still see the cumulative effect.
It’s easy to forget how things used to be once you’ve settled into how things are now. Personally, I hardly remember how my hamstrings felt when I first switched to a morning practice, or how I felt sheepish walking into the Mysore room, or how I would have to look up the next posture before going into the shala. I hardly remember how my low back hurt while I was learning Second Series, or how my arms were constantly exhausted when I was learning Third Series.
It’s easy not to see how far you’ve progressed because these shifts happen over longer periods of time and gradually become normal, rather than being a momentous instant when everything changes. And in my experience, that’s how change is.
And it isn’t only in practice that we do this. I have almost forgotten where I was a few years ago. Living on the other side of the country, pretty unhappy with my personal life, and scared to move. Now I can hardly remember what my cooped up, lonely-hearted self felt like.
When we reach our goals, they gradually become our new normal. We settle in and forget what an accomplishment it is to actually be here.
My suggestion to you, as we close out the year, is to take an inventory of your accomplishments and consciously choose to enjoy them. Write it down and acknowledge how far you have come. Allow yourself to inspire you.
By consciously enjoying your successes no matter how small, you expand your capacity for enjoyment and invite more success into your life—on and off the mat.
And so I’ll say it to you too: I hope you see how far you’ve come. Because it’s easy to forget all the hard work that got you to where you are right now.
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