Well, I guess this question is a version of the glass half full or half empty. For today, I have a whole heart and a hole in my heart.
As you all know, I have had my share of hip surgeries this last 3-4 years. When I look back, it is a bit insane. I started thinking back to the first time that I met Olivia as I was beginning to prepare for a revision hip scope. That first meeting was at the gym, and I had no idea that she was going to be my first “real” yoga teacher. I had practiced yoga prior to Olivia, but only for exercise. There was no emphasis on the mind-body connection in the yoga classes I had taken before.
Yoga is really designed to allow your mind and body to become connected with an emphasis on breath work through movement and, at the same time, honoring the body in its imperfection. I’m sure when I walked into the studio that first time, Olivia had no idea how flawed my body really was. Olivia taught me to embrace the imperfection and to listen to the voice in my head that said, “Slow down. Give yourself grace.” She gave me the tools to quiet my mind which is so incredibly important in healing. Sometimes, I still spray some WD40 on those tools, but I know how to do that and when it is needed.
Olivia has encouraged me throughout 5 surgeries always with the emphasis of going slow and measured with some grace sprinkled in there. I have no doubt that my ability to mostly remain hopeful is because of my focus on being mindful. Mindfulness has allowed me (most times) to not go down the rabbit hole of worry. It has allowed me to shut out the “what if” and “why me” questions. It has allowed me to look at the present and to plant seeds of hope regardless of the outcome.
One of my favorite quotes that I remember Olivia saying towards the end of a yoga class was, “If you have a thought, don’t chase it, let it go.” Even in its simplicity, it was profound for me. I repeat this to myself quite frequently when I feel myself adopting the persona of Weekend Worrier as opposed to Hopeful Hippie. Another emphasis that Olivia placed importance on is strength before flexibility. It is something that I routinely practice. Just because your body may allow you to go into end range of motion poses, it does not mean you should. Practicing this concept outside of yoga is hugely important. If you are too flexible, you may end up not being able to honor your own needs as your focus may be on everyone and everything around you. If you cannot take care of yourself, you cannot take care of others!
So, I have a whole heart. My heart is full. Lessons learned and retained. Friendships gained. Laughter. But, conversely, I have a hole in my heart as my yoga teacher is moving away from this little ‘ol town of ours for greener pastures. That hole in my heart will be filled with memories and the importance of embracing grace for self and others.
With that being said, look inside yourself, find that strength and that grace that will help you and those around you to embark on that next journey.