The Yoga of Change

Caution: get ready for a feminist truth bomb/reality rant. If that’s not your jam, feel free to skip this one. No judgement here.

Elle and I decided to start Practically Yoga because I was moving away for a job. And as luck would have it, I’m starting another one next week!

The job I originally moved away for did not turn out to be what I had hoped. It was in a very male dominated field where sexist behaviour was a day to day occurrence. Waking up every day knowing that I had to spend 9 straight hours in that kind of environment grew very emotionally and mentally taxing.

I’m not playing the victim card here. I recognize that a different woman, with a different background may have functioned perfectly well in that environment. But that was not my reality.

What I am trying to get at here is that all of our individual past experiences create patterns that affect how we react in the present. In yoga we call this Samskara-grooves or imprints that exist in our minds from our past experiences. These grooves can be positive or negative and perpetuate positive or negative patterns in your life that you might not even notice. I didn’t realize how much my samskaras would affect me until I was in a work environment that pushed my feminist-ness to the limit on a daily basis.

So, you would think that now that I am out of that environment and that I have a new job, with a progressive organization that my anxiety would be pretty much gone. But, of course, you would be wrong.

My anxiety is something that exists as a baseline. It’s always there regardless of my external environment. So changing my external reality only really affects the number of triggers I interact with on a daily basis. But it doesn’t change the general possibility of daily anxiety.

People often think the next ‘thing’ (job, car, boyfriend) will finally make them happy and content. But what they forget is that they are fundamentally the same person, no matter what the external window dressing looks like. To put it in incredibly blunt and crass terms; if you were an asshole when you were broke, you’re probably going to continue being an asshole when you win the lottery. Your samskaras remain the same. Put another way, the grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s green where you water it. But the great thing is, you get to decide what gets watered and what doesn’t.

The only way that these behavioural patterns change is if you can recognize just that: that all your present and future actions are to a certain degree, based on your past experiences, and are ultimately, patterns. Once you start to catch yourself reenacting the same cycle over and over again (in your job, in your relationships, etc), a way out becomes much more clear. It’s like a weird lightbulb moment where you stop yourself and say “wait, what am I doing here?” This is when you can start to rewrite your samskaras. You can create new mental grooves that serve you better.

So what is the silver lining of my spending the last four months in an overtly sexist work environment? I now know that a lot of my reactions were based on my samskaras. But I also know I deserve better than that. Fundamentally, my skills and abilities have very little to do with the fact that I have female reproductive organs, so I don’t have to put up with a work environment that believes the opposite. And that my friends, is #mundanegratitude in action.

Change is as much about figuring out what out what you do want in your life, as it is about deciding what no longer serves you. I no longer need to have my beliefs about myself as a woman tested on a daily basis (I can do enough of that in my own head thank you very much), and that wasn’t an easy conclusion to come to.

So Practical Yogis, what is something you don’t need in your life anymore? What grooves can you begin to rewrite? And most importantly, what change are you ready to embrace?

Til next time,

Bee

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