I’m a big fan of inspirational quotes. I always have been. Even when I was a teenager, I would cut inspirational images out of magazines and tape them to my bedroom wall. I loved messages of hope, perseverance, strength and overcoming obstacles. My favorite quotes as a teenager/young adult were ones about self-empowerment, and they sounded a lot like this:
“You are only in competition with yourself.”
“The only person you should ever try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.”
Quotes like these drove me to work harder and motivated me to accomplish more each day. These quotes served their purpose at that time because each new day was very similar to the prior day. My body felt good, I was strong, and I was young without a health issue in sight. It was actually possible to be in competition with myself because I was changing very little from day to day.
What I now know is that life changes. Babies are born. Bodies get injured. Surgeries become necessary. Sickness happens.
Right now, I am taking three different antibiotics to fight Lyme disease and two tick-borne parasites. My body hurts more now than it did before I started the antibiotics. (I’m told that this is not uncommon.) I cannot be in competition with the person I was yesterday because I feel so much worse today.
Some days, the stars align, and I can handstand, split, throw my leg behind my head, sit in lotus without pain and run for miles without a problem. Other days, my stress level is high, my mind cannot focus, my knee is too inflamed to bend or even walk without a limp, and my balance is horrific. If THAT is my reality on many days, then I can’t live a life of anger and frustration because I think I am a mere shadow of my former self.
I see now that it’s much healthier to just strive for excellence today, based on today’s circumstances. Competing with a former version of myself is just a recipe for disappointment.
If I have learned anything from yoga, I have learned that all we have is now. The present. Each time I step onto my mat, I focus on the current breath and the current posture. I don’t think about the next posture in the sequence. I don’t judge the postures that I’ve already completed. All that matters is the current moment. I encourage you to live your yoga, too. Live here in “the now”, and find peace.
“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.” –Dalai Lama