Self-reflection with an eye to improvement is an admirable aim, but there’s something subtly self-aggressive about serially making lists of semi-arbitrary goals and striving to wrest them into existence.
Isn’t there a way to ease into our aspirations, enlisting the support of the universe in bringing them to pass?
There is, I think.
Two years ago I was diagnosed with Stage III arthritis: the connective cushioning in my left knee was in shreds; I could no longer run, and even walking was painful at times. It felt like being lobbed from a lifetime of agility and athleticism directly onto the slag heap of useless old age.
Following my mantra that there are natural alternatives to invasive procedures, I began a year-long yoga intensive, resolving to heal my knee.
A year later, I am an RYT (Registered Yoga Trainer) who is stronger and more flexible, more balanced mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Then (on my birthday, December 21) an X-ray showed that my knee had graduated, too– to Stage IV arthritis, bone grinding on bone. The doctor said that without joint replacement, I would face steadily sharper pain and eventual immobilization.
The Winter Solstice—the longest night of the year—was truly a dark night of the soul for me. With the dawn, however, came a ringing reminder: we can plan plans, but not results. Disappointment dissipated as I realized I’d almost missed my miracle, since it had been disguised as a problem.
Showing up daily on my yoga mat did its job. It has opened me to the present moment so that instead of wishing and working at becoming kinder, more energetic or more enlightened, I could just be that person on the inside right now—just for a moment—then let it go. Instead of striving to change myself, I could just be conscious in my own aliveness—without attaching some woe-is-me story to it.
My knee will need surgery, but there’s no rush. And there are newer, less-invasive, biologically-based joint replacements available nowadays—in different time and economic zones from my own at present.
But that could change. I’ve relaxed into a space in which all things are possible.
In the roominess of that space, I am no longer imprisoned at the center of my own universe. When I’m in pain, I am at one with everyone else who hurts. When I’m exulting in the strength and range-of-motion I continue to build on my mat, I share that aliveness with all sentient beings. I can connect with that energy on the spot—not in some fuzzy future. And by expanding my field of yearning to include all that is, I am building a bridge to better destinations—a mojo that multiplies the power of my wishes.