Treasure in Disguise
By Laura Mills
Picture yourself standing before a pile of clean laundry, just out of the dryer. How do you arrange the socks—do you ball the pairs, for example, or do you fold them? How do you fold casual tees and shorts? How do you determine which items you hang and which items you fold? Then ask yourself: if another person arranged your laundry for you, one time, but that person arranged your items differently, would you rearrange them YOUR WAY later?
I am no expert at analyzing people’s laundry practices. But I do find great interest in the fact that so many of us, perhaps not even bona fide “fussy people,” maintain very particular standards about a few specific aspects of life—if not laundry perhaps the way we arrange our closets, place paper money in our wallets, store food in our refrigerators, or organize books on our shelves. Maybe it’s something else entirely. Or maybe it’s nothing at all, a particularity in itself.
I offer this as but one tiny, tiny example of just how remarkable each of us really is. We’ve all been told before, I’m sure, but I believe it’s imperative to remember—constantly—that each of us is a vast accumulation of subtle wonders. Picture yourself and all those “little things” about you. Then picture your partner or closest friend, then the last stranger you saw yesterday before going home….
The net time you find yourself face to face with someone new, remember that there’s always something to talk about. Not that you have to talk about your laundry, but only that you are amazing, as is everyone you meet. Then relax and let the good vibes flow.
By Laura Mills
Last week I attended a 75-minute class that left me with achy hips and legs 24 hours later. I loved the class—it was one of those fast-flowing, core-centered sweaty practices—but the challenge caught me a little off-guard and left me wincing with every step long after Savasana ended.
Every yogi encounters moments like these on the mat. We struggle where we usually don’t and think, “Wait, I can usually do this without a problem. What’s wrong?” One of the most difficult things to do—on the mat as well as off—is to remain kind to and accepting of ourselves as we are. Until about ten years ago, I was used to surpassing most challenges with determination and hard work. But the challenges grew more difficult than I could handle, and I broke down…which is when yoga, thankfully, provided a safe place within which I could struggle but still ultimately find peace. I learned that all challenges, large and small, on the mat and off, eventually either pass or deepen into something that serves.
I believe there’s no safer place for a little bit of struggle than a yoga mat. It’s okay; we never push to the point of pain, but we learn to gradually accept struggle as a teacher while we mindfully assess, align and adjust our way towards more positive tomorrows.
An Exercise in Awareness
By Laura Mills
For several years I made a habit of drinking one diet soda every afternoon. It was my pick-me-up, my simple indulgence in the middle of the day to add a little flavor to the hours that followed. I enjoyed diet soda and never considered my one daily can a terribly unhealthy habit. But what bothered me is that I often pulled one out of the fridge just because the clock said 4:00 pm. I didn’t contemplate whether I wanted it or not; it was just something I had gotten used to doing.
Completely eliminating my afternoon pick-me-up just left me irritated, so to remedy the situation I sought a more gentle approach and switched from diet soda to something less automatic: tea. I had always kept a few varieties of tea on hand, but now I stocked up. I reasoned that tea requires intention, that I would never be able to pull a hot, ready-to-drink cup out of the cabinet at 4:00 pm or any other time. I would instead have to gather the tea-making items, wait at least a few minutes for the water to boil, and then wait another few minutes for the tea to brew. In other words, I would have to REALLY want that tea.
So far, my new approach is working well. I still keep a few emergency sodas in the fridge and pull one out every now and then, but I’m noticing that the more I drink tea the more I enjoy it. In addition to tea’s flavor and warmth, I appreciate the experience of consciously choosing my afternoon pick-me-up, another small way of savoring even the simplest moments.