by LeeAnn Chisolm
Inhale. Exhale. Kneeling forward, you kick your legs up behind you in an apparent vertical attempt at defying gravity. Ignoring the blood suddenly rushing to your head, you realize for a mere moment in time you have found stability. It ends all too fast as you keel over toppling out of your pose and right out of your dignity. This is the struggle of the headstand (sirsasana).
While the practice of yoga can be used to enhance many different aspects of our lives, what I love most about it is how it shows us who we are in each moment and who we can be. In the stillness of each breath, we return to our source. While pushing ourselves to new limits, our bodies adapt and we inherently grow.
On a yoga mat, growth seems more tangible than it does in other parts of our lives. We often find ourselves settled in positions or relationships and can’t remember how we got there in the first place. We’re comfortable, but are we happy? I revisit this question many times along my journey and I am always challenging myself to grow beyond it.
The idea can be daunting at times, whether that’s adopting a healthier lifestyle, starting a new job, or ending a bad relationship. Sometimes we don’t even get a choice in the matter. Life decides for us. In either case, I believe growth is something that should be sought after and embraced. Here are a few lessons I have learned along the way to help you do just that:
Many people have heard the old adage: “Change is inevitable.” While my mother raised me with this mantra, I always had a terrible time accepting the functionality of it. I wanted so desperately to hold on to the things I knew – friendships, toys, homes, etc. – which may derive from my life as a military brat. I have learned now that growth comes through allowing change and sometimes even forcing it. Who are we if we remain within our comfort zones? There is no learning. There is no growing. We do our spiritual selves no justice by residing there. By letting go of our idea of security, we can finally attract the abundance we know has been ours all along.
Hello world. Meet fear, the lingering, obsessive friend that’s been attached to my hip since somewhere around puberty. We all have this friend. The one who tells us we’re not good enough, not capable, that what we are doing isn’t possible. You recognize her yet? Well, when you do, thank her. When I’ve gotten to the point of finally leaving my comfort zone, fear has stopped me dead in my tracks and tried to show me who I was. But I realized she wasn’t showing me who I was; instead, she was showing me who I thought I was. You see, fear knows you at your core - the desires that make your heart sing, the reasons you held back in the past. That’s because fear is you. I have learned that if I fear something, it’s because I really want it. With that knowledge, I press forward and with her screaming in my ear, I prove her wrong. So don’t let fear stop you. Let it propel you.
Sometimes we get so gung-ho about the idea of “change,” we rush into it expecting an immediate transformation on the other side. The inescapable truth is that it takes time. Sure you can adopt a new diet or workout regime, but what makes you healthier? Growth is lasting change, a change in perspective. It’s an evolution. And as we all know, evolution takes time. Make time to reflect, to reaffirm and to redirect. Whether you want to compare it to Rome, our little ol’ universe, or every evolving cell in our body, everything takes time to unfold as it were designed. So be patient, keep pressing forward, allow room for mistakes and love yourself through transformation.
Choose love all the time. Love where you are. Love who you are with. Love where you are going. Living from this perspective doesn’t make you unconscious of the bad. It simply changes your perspective of what bad means and allows you to attract something better. You absolutely hate your job. I get it. I’ve been there. But choose love. What is it about your job that you love? What made you take it in the first place? What does having this job allow you to do? Be grateful for where you are. You see, without being exactly where you are you can’t get to where you are meant to be. When we change our perspective, so much more possibility is opened to us. In choosing love, we also choose forgiveness. We choose to forgive those who have hurt us especially the person who has hurt us the most, ourselves. So instead of holding on (comfort zone) to your pain, to your grudges, choose love, the highest expression of yourself, and grow into a better existence.
In a recent leap of faith I took, I realized that growth is just as much about holding on as it is about letting go. We are always so eager to transform ourselves, or our environment to achieve an envisioned goal. But sometimes growth just means realizing what you have and learning to embrace and honor that. I am by no means condoning jumping out of the plane while still grasping on to the railing. If you are going to jump, by all means jump. But sometimes, you don’t even have to take that plunge. Whether that’s a job or a relationship, learning to accept all that you have is all that you need for growth within itself. Growth is knowing when to let go and when to hold on.
So when you fall out of your headstand, get up and try again. Don’t fear falling. Embrace the possibility of succeeding. Pace yourself, and try until you nail it. Once you’re there, be all the way there. Breathe there, and when you’re ready, keep going. Life is always pushing us to grow and stretch passed our plateau. We should always seek to challenge ourselves physically, emotional, mentally and spiritually; for change is trivial if we are not growing through it. Whatever you do, trust the life you are creating and embrace each moment of it. Growth is in the living. So by all means, live.
LeeAnn Chisolm reps many titles; among them are writer, visual storyteller and food activist. Born and raised in Germany, now residing in Atlanta, this self-proclaimed workaholic found her calling early on through written word and performing arts. It wasn’t until her post-collegiate career, and subsequent quarter-life crisis, that she discovered what all of her hard work and skills had been preparing her for. “To teach truth,” she recalls her 8-year-old self reciting in proclamation of her envisioned future. That along with adjusting to her perfect C-cup bra size – self-discovery and acceptance – large feats for a preteen, no pun intended. But in hindsight, that moment of pure clarity foretold LeeAnn’s mission to bring awareness through her art. Today, LeeAnn can be found locked away writing screenplays to her hearts content, creating art programs for her family-run nonprofit, capturing moments, reciting poems, making kombucha for perfect strangers and following her passion wherever it leads.