This past winter hit me hard. It was as if the disappearance of the sun had not only taken away any light after 5pm, but also any light in how I looked at life. Everything was heavy and nothing felt right. My motivation for most things barely existed. My practice was slowly disintegrating. I wasn’t focused on anything. I found myself taking things out on people close to me, all the while not telling anyone how I was feeling.
I know 2017 was a hard year for many of us. Personally, a lot of things happened for me. I left the yoga studio I had been a part of for many years. I lost a teacher when Michael Stone passed. I had new relationship hurdles to maneuver. I started into the second year of my acupuncture education. I was doing a lot of deep therapy work. I was still processing 2016. All of this as well as all the socio-political things happening outside of my little sphere.
So what did I do? I went inward and not in a good way. To start with, I let myself get so far deep into my own head that I was running on a loop. I didn’t want to do anything. I felt isolated and lonely. That constant loop of thoughts (something I talk about a lot) was a very deep rabbit hole that I fell down myself.
Sometimes when we think we know better is just the time when things come to remind us… Anything can happen to any of us. Even those who practice most can suffer from the pitfalls that beginners also face. There always seems to be a great equalizer at play somewhere.
Eventually, that awareness we cultivate in mindfulness practice finally started to break through. It became easier to catch myself when I was behaving against my own wellbeing. I was able to recognize the patterns, which I truly think is a first step. If you don’t know what’s happening, how can you break a cycle?
I’ve spent the better part of 2018 trying to break the cycles that 2017 left me staring at. Despite being aware of them, I’m still working through. It isn’t a one time and you’re done sort of thing. Just like in practice when we focus and then get distracted with a thought and have to come back, so is the work to break cycles in our outer lives. It’s the work of attention, fading off, and then coming back.
The trick is to remember we can always come back, to not be hard on ourselves if we’ve gotten lost in hibernation and thought loops and cycles. It’s just a time to settle into our awareness and allow ourselves the time to do a little work.
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