Yoga Every Damn Day: Motive #2

Documenting my journey as I do #yogaeverydamnday for 30 days.  

[#YogaEveryDamnDay is a hashtag alongside of a challenge created by yoga teacher Rachel Breathen. It began as a monthly Instagram-based challenge do yoga-something (meditation, pranayama, asana) every day for one month. Rachel’s intention was to remind people that yoga is more than a pose, but a multifaceted practice that can have immense value when practiced every day. It has since become a mantra for many yogis old and new.]

Continuing the reasoning behind why I’ve resolved to do #yogaeverydamnday for the next month.
Coming straight to you from day # 7!

Motive #2: I promised myself I would start meditating 6 damn months ago.

I’ve recently been reminiscing on the fact that while growing up and through most of college I was the happiest person I knew. Of course it’s easy to view the past through rose colored glasses but I also distinctly remember people telling me how happy I always seemed to be. It might have been ignorance, it might have been immaturity, but it sure was lovely to be so carefree and laugh till my stomach hurt on a daily basis. I’ve also recently noticed that up until a few years ago, I prayed every single night before I went to bed. I doubt there were more than five nights in twenty years that I didn’t spend time praying, reflecting on my blessings, requesting forgiveness for my sins and asking God to protect and care for my friends and family.

Now “real life” has found itself encroaching on every part of my carefree life and I’m a lot less happy than I used to be. My mind races all day long as I stress over an insurmountable task list. Combine this with the fact that you lose 7% of your dopamine receptors every decade ( I recently ascertained this while working at an addiction treatment center) and I often feel like a hopeless mess without direction or resolve.

And then it hits me: if the science is accurate, my grandma is working at near empty in the dopamine receptor department and she is BY FAR the happiest person I know. [Hi Gram!] Furthermore, direction and resolve have been smacking me across the face for the past year from all the podcasts and self-help books I’ve invested time in to help improve my happiness levels.

 “You must master a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.”

Meditation is the number one ranked principle I’ve heard relating to increased mindfulness, stress relief, and happiness.  And there’s more than enough proof to back it up. Nearly everyone that I idolize personally, professionally, lifestyle design, skill set, etc. has and continues to practice meditation. The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Michael Jordan, Steph Curry, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rick Rubin, Josh Waitzkin, Tony Robbins, Timothy Ferriss (and nearly everyone that he interviews on his podcast), and the list goes on and on.

Unfortunately, I, like most humans, have trouble starting new self-help ventures. Because at first read, self-help theories sound perfect, revolutionary and finally! exactly what your life needs to fix everything … but then taking the single next step to implement the practice is a whole different story. You’ll honestly never likely take that next step, and the billion-dollar self-help market flourishes at your mercy! This has been my story with meditation over the past year.

“You must be willing to be happy and willing to change the path that you’re on.”
I’ve boasted that I’m willing, but I definitely haven’t changed the path that I’m on.

Until of course, I decided to do #yogaeverydamnday and as a byproduct I now officially #meditateeverydamnday. Because yoga is not just asana (control of body), it incorporates meditation (control of mind), and pranayama (control of breath).

Thanks to yoga, I’ve fool proofed myself into another positive daily practice. I’m already signed up for the class, I just have to show up, and as a result I’m practicing meditation for an entire hour. I won’t be perfect at it and some days I’m not as up for it, but I’m putting in the work #everydamnday.

How meditation works through yoga:
During yoga, you’re instructed to shut down your inner monologue and concentrate on your breath and movement. It doesn’t always stick and outside thoughts frequently resurface, but a large part of the practice of meditation is strengthening this habit of actively bringing your mind back into it. Soon you start to more readily disrupt your normal flow of thoughts, subsisting in a mindful state for longer durations.

On improving the concept of happiness, yoga promotes the idea that we are all part of a greater whole. More pointedly, it works on resolving a loss or lack of gratitude for one’s own existence. Everything that we struggle with as humans: negative habits, social obligations, desires, worries, stresses, aliments, and grief prevent us from experiencing the innately blissful and basic experience of human embodiment. Yoga and meditation help to remove these things, one by one, and gain appreciation for the present moment and the simple light, love and life that breathes through us. The more often you do this, the abler you are to implement it in your daily life to combat negative experiences and resulting feelings and reactions to them.

Yes, it isn’t as easy to be as happy and carefree as it was when we were younger and part of combating it is accepting it and making a concerted daily effort to improve it. I’m choosing to do so through yoga and meditation. As life coach Gabrielle Bernstein puts it, “Be consistent, happiness isn’t for dabblers”. It can’t be a “some” days choice, so I’m making the choice #everydamnday.

McKensie, Co-founder
NOLA Tribe Yoga