13 October 2015
Every decision you make is not a decision about what to do, it is a decision about who you are. — Neal Donald Walsch
I believe there is an instinctive urge within us to create, and be, our unique selves. That when we listen to that inner urge, we unfurl satisfaction and develop wisdom.
Doing so can be courageous in a culture that tries on every channel to get us to consume and conform, but I think that the world truly needs us tuning in to our core values and creating lives that reflect them.
This morning in yoga sun salutations, I moved into downward dog. It’s one of my favorite stretches—the tension of pushing heels gently toward the floor while simultaneously lifting the hips up, up, up, sits-bones rotating ever-so-slightly toward the sky. All the adjustments are minute in this pose, yet the stretch is intense, activating muscles along the entire back of my body-legs, butt, back, arms, neck. I love to take this stretch right to the edge of comfort, so it feels good but even a teeny bit more would be too much. If I’m listening in, my body instinctually knows right when to stop.
This is such a cool place—the leading, growing margin. Where awareness is tucked right up into the edge of exploration.
It’s easy to think of yoga as a bunch of poses. Actually, yoga is not the pose. Yoga is all about the stretch. But understanding of the pose gives us a target, focuses the attention on a shape and destination. Meanwhile, the breath helps keep us rooted in the present moment.
To me, yoga is a beautiful analogy for living. Perhaps anything we are passionate about offers this same motivation—to repeatedly aim for something because it matters to us.
As I got up from the mat, I found myself wondering, what could help me align my days within the shape of my values in the same way a pose provides an objective in yoga. The image of a bullseye target floated to mind.
A center circle, with radiating concentric rings. And a few lovely arrows, like a little bonus, already sprouting from the center.
Thinking of those values and the inner urges, could I picture them as parts of that bullseye? What would land in smack dab in the core? What in the rings surrounding, and defining, that center?
I began considering my activities, letting loose an arrow in my mind and seeing where it landed. Some thwanged home, solid and strong, others flew utterly wild. And others, lost steam immediately, faltering and falling to the ground.
What was I shooting for with that arrow? What core value was I hoping to hit?
My broad categories include marriage, friendships and community, home, work, creative expression, fitness. Everyone has a unique assemblage of priorities. They develop from our upbringing, our experience, our circumstances. And they also arise from within, from the unique person that we each are.
Reflecting on how our activities align with our objectives, on whether our efforts are hitting the mark or flying into the weeds beyond, helps us improve our ability to live in a way that brings us satisfaction. It allows us to develop our aim for the qualities we place in the center of our lives.
I’m coming to think of satisfaction as a relationship we can develop. It includes how we engage with the people, circumstances and events that we encounter. It’s about how we respond to what we’re given, how we show up to it, how we add to it.
The world is big and overwhelming sometimes. The possibilities are endless. But we have little voices, nudging us toward a life full of value.
Each of us can create that target, set our sights on the bullseye and let our arrows fly.