Today I rolled out my yoga mat. For the first time in a long time.
Yoga for me has been a wonderful physical and spiritual practice through our the years. But, since my horrendous back injury (over a year ago), it has been near absent in my life. I have always incorporated yoga into my dance warm ups, but laying out the yoga mat for an explicit practice has not been part of my routine.
I rolled it out today, because being on vacation I was tired of the bike machine down in the gym and needed a little bit of variety. Hence, the mat.
I didn't know what my practice would look like. I didn't know how it would go after so much time. More specifically I didn't know how I would go (or be). As I lay folded in child's pose, I wondered exactly this.
How am I? We use the question to mean the state in which we exist. How are you? I'm fine. I'm ok. I'm great! I'm wretched. But, how is not merely about a state of being. It is also describes the way we exist. The way we do things. The way we navigate the world and our experiences.
How do I do it?
How would I know?
How should I respond?
How am I standing? How am I lunging, folding, reaching, sitting? What is the way I do what I do?
Becoming aware of who we are is really becoming aware of how we are. And, being aware means asking ourselves this question at every turn. How do I eat my breakfast? How do I respond to an upset friend, family member, student?
But, being aware is just the first step. Being how you are (That's just how I am!) is not an excuse for poor behavior or unskillful practices. We have the ability to change how we are in the world. That is the sweetness of being human. We get to choose whether our behaviors or actions serve us or not. The new year is a time when many people, who may otherwise not be aware of how they are, look at themselves in the mirror and ask the million dollar question. How am I?
The winter solstice is behind us. The days will now get longer, and we will come closer to the sun with each passing moment. We have the chance to use this time to examine how we are in this world. How we are with each other. How we are on the yoga mat or walking down the street.
This time of quiet, of darkness and reflection is key to really understanding our nature.
But, the real work comes later. Discovering how we are is not a one shot deal. We get to discover how we are every single day we walk this earth. We get to discover how we are in all that we do.
So the next time you are asked How are you? Take a moment and ask yourself the deeper question of awareness so that you can continue the practice of self discovery with each step, with each moment.
May you have a Happy New Year!