Gina Molinari yoga, wellness, travel and coaching
I've been alive for 30 years and 1 day! I celebrated by going about a completely normal Monday, but consciously and without telling myself "you should be doing [thing]". Well, I did also have some triple chocolate cake for dessert, but that's pretty standard anyway.
This is a big year, a third decade of life. Twenties were an era of exponential growth. The person I was at 22 would not even recognize my 29 year old self. Thirties are for stepping back and saying to myself, "Yea, I know some stuff now. How can I put it to action?" and starting to form a life that is really aligned with who I am.
People I grew up with are approaching their thirties and starting families. Others are across the world blogging from under palm trees. I spent a lot of time holding my life up to theirs and making comparisons and judgments. These days, I finally feel content with where my feet are and I know it to be the starting point for where I'll go next. Always and forever.
We all play this nasty comparison game with ourselves. On social media we see photos of friends and complete strangers living out the life of our dreams. During the holidays we hear about friends who were gifted that fancy new technology. Don't even get me started with the engagements that pop up in the winter season. When we allow our monkey minds to compare our lives to the highlight reels of others, it's completely toxic.
It doesn't have to be that way.
When we find ourselves grounded, confident, and worthy, we can shift our views from judgment/comparison to inspiration. Seeing someone living outside of the box we are see ourselves trapped in stimulates us to wonder how can we move outside of our own limitations. When done in a mindful and healthy way, comparison can become motivation and a catalyst for expansion. First, we must feel safe and sure in our own footprints though. From there, anything is possible.
Our Surf, Service, & Yoga Retreat in Sri Lanka was such a fulfilling success! We all expanded ourselves and learned life's lessons in different ways. That's what travel gifts us - the opportunity to learn something we never expected to learn.
We stayed at Sion Surf Camp, a super laid back spot in Ahangama. It sits across from Devil's Rock and a famous surf break. Every morning, the crew of "real" surfers would line up along the rocks' edge and survey their Lover, the powerful and generous Ocean. I would stand behind them and watch their passion while trying to understand the jargon and make sense of the terrifying waves.
I've never been a great swimmer and my experience with the ocean is generally just dipping in to cool off after baking myself on the beach. Nonetheless, I was in Sri Lanka with clean surf breaks and patient instructors, so I gave it a shot. I started out by telling my instructor that I'm afraid of waves and a half hour later looked him straight in the eyes and said "I'm not even having fun." I expect he probably deals with stubborn learners often, because he laughed me off and helped to push me into the next wave. Lo and behold, when I accepted guidance and stopped trying to figure it all out on my own, I caught the wave AND stood up to ride the whitewater all the way toward shore.
Surfing over the next 2 weeks offered lesson after lesson. Just the same way we learn something about ourselves or our relationship to the world when we step on our yoga mats, surfing offers us the opportunity to learn something about the "real world". One of the most profound yet basic lessons I learned was the value of reading a situation and then adjusting accordingly. I would pop up onto my longboard and feel it wobble as my feet weren't in quite the right spot, so I'd jump off and call it a wash. After exhausting myself this way for a few runs, I realized that I could walk on the board. When I didn't land the way I needed, I could adjust and rebalance in order to ride it out.
How often do you try something new, whether it's an activity or a relationship, and find that it's not working out quite right? Do you abandon ship? Hopefully, you adjust and attempt to find an approach that feels true and stable. When we step into Warrior II, it's a process of finding the foot placement, wiggling our shoulders over our hips, engaging the core, and then stabilizing our legs. It's a natural part of surfing/yoga/life. We can't possibly expect to have things perfect at the start (or ever), but we can certainly adjust to make things feel steady.
Like the practice of yoga, surfing is a lifelong practice. Every wave is unique and the board you ride it on requires different strategy. Every day we come to our yoga mats, our bodies and minds are in a unique state and must be accounted for. Just as we practice yoga on our mats and surfing on our boards, these are all efforts to carry the lessons we learn in to our everyday lives.
I can't believe I've never done this before: Today I made a "List of Things I Think I SHOULD Do". Making To-Do lists is a daily occurrence for me, but this one is unique. It has all the same things on it, but after each item is the self-talk that immediately popped into my head as I wrote down the task.
Today I've felt really rundown, like the way I feel when I'm sick and my body has put me on bedrest so I physically can't operate like a functional adult. Maybe it's a pre-emptive suggestion as I'm teaching 8 classes over the next 3 days, but the involuntary shutdown left me with the anxiety that usually crops up in times like this. I become frustrated that my capacity to take care of things is diminished because I "just don't have time for it". I need to be productive.
So I make a To-Do list, a big ol' braindump in order to lay out all the things I feel like I need to accomplish before I can take the time to rest. The list itself is a pretty useful tool, but the mindset with which I make it determines whether it will serve me or bring on my monkey mind anxiety. My "Should" List had all the things I really would like to get done [eventually] accompanied by the "shoulding" that I react to and become stressed out by. With it all laid out it really looks pretty ridiculous. Really, Gina, people are judging you as a bad yoga teacher if you skip practice? You'll never have another chance to take a walk in the sun if you don't go now? .....probably not.
Shift perspective and add some mindfulness to your To-Do List, or even to the unwritten list in your head. "I should own a house by now." "I need to find a new job because I should have more money". "I should hang out with Soandso or I may not be invited out again". Listen to the negative self-talk and then tune in to really ask yourself if it's realistic. Take some time to identify your anxiety causing judgments and quit letting them bully you around!
In short, my anxiety isn't stemming from the length of my To-Do list or even the things on it. It comes from the dialogue I create in my head by judging myself, the strict rules I've set, the perceived lack of worth if I don't accomplish everything! I'm sharing this because I'd bet it's the same for you. Try making a Should list. Practice being kind to yourself.
Turns out that when I release the negative self-talk, I actually did want to update my blog here. Not because I should, but because in this moment it actually brings me more Joy rather than just avoiding anxiety. <3
Ramblings, insights, & motivation