Why is it sometimes so tricky to keep a promise? We say to ourselves "I am not going to eat rubbishy food" or "I am going to walk 4000 steps every day" or "I’m not going to drink alcohol for 4 weeks" or (shortly after that) "I’m only going to drink at weekends" or "I am going to stay calm with my children not matter what they do". Flash to Wednesday night, when you’ve reached for the red wine after a disastrous dinner in which you’ve not only yelled at your kids you’ve somehow eaten all their Haribo.
And that’s the problem. It is easy to do the things that make life hard and it is hard (sometimes REALLY hard) to do the things that make life easy.
But why is it so tricky to keep on the right track? I see it as a sort of complex formula, made up of determination (being really clear about what it is you want to do), discipline (being regular or consistent with your action) and something like devotion; making that “goal” more important than the other things that cry for our attention (literally and metaphorically). So there needs to be a sort of selfishness in it – we need to turn down or turn off the calls on our time, or the things that might pull us off course. And is that selfish? Well, sometimes yes. But if you don’t prioritise the things – the actions – which help you stay in balance or support you in living well then you do yourself and those around you no favours.
First love yourself, care for yourself. Only then will you have the energy, the patience and the ability to reach out and care for those you love, and to meet everyday challenges calmly.
And Rome wasn’t built in a day. I’ll match the yoga philosophy* with some family philosophy. My dear sister has a great ratio approach – if you manage to do well 80% of the time, you can cut yourself some slack 20% of the time. Another of her great insights is that if you start well on a Monday it sets the tone for the week. Miss that Monday morning swim though, and the week will run like sand through your fingers and it’ll be Friday and you won’t have swum a stroke.
So thank you to my sister for her wise words and to my dear friends Mairi and Steph, to whom I promised a yoga session ooohhh about three years ago. I finally fulfilled the promise and realised that all our good intentions – even our best intentions - only get put to one side when that’s where we chose to put them. Ladies, thank you for your patience and the inspiration your kind ways provide.
*Discipline and devotion (maybe they combine to make determination?) are two of the five niyamas or yogic observances, the others being cleanliness, contentment and study. The niyamas are the second of Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga. See here for an interesting article describing the niyamas in more detail.
On and off the mat, yoga philosophy or principles can be applied. This blog catches those meanders as well as some of the extra bits that we don't have time to go too deeply into during class.