I heard someone recently describe the experience of asking a professional mentor what me might do to accelerate his career. His mentor said something to the effect of “trust the process.” By this, he meant to be diligent, to work hard each day, and to have faith in the systems in place.
The person relaying this story told me how disappointed he was to get this advice. He was hoping for sexier guidance: a hot tip about a fast track he could take, a secret to getting ahead.
In entrepreneurial work, there’s often a lot of attention given to being an innovator, someone who’s not afraid to think outside the box. The invitation to trust a process, rather than to disrupt it, can feel anticlimactic.
I’m thinking about this because I’ve been at a yoga workshop with my ashtanga community this weekend. For me, the magic of ashtanga resides in placing one’s faith in a system, in being willing to work through a process before you’re able to fully understand or anticipate the benefits.
Traditionally, one moves through the ashtanga series posture by posture. It’s not until you’re able to do one posture than you proceed on to the next one.
My teachers take a more intuitive and individualized approach, allowing all of us to progress if a particular pose is either not right for our bodies or will require a lot of time and practice.
Even so, I find the notion of moving sequentially inspiring. It presupposes that, with enough practice and patience, anything is possible for anyone. Whether this is literally true or not—I’m sure there are plenty of postures I’ll never do—I love the optimism. There’s a hopefulness and sense of possibility embedded in this style of yoga.
I’ve been doing yoga for a long time, but my practice is a lot like me: often fearful and self-doubting. Ashtanga has taught me that I can surprise myself. To paraphrase my teacher, ashtanga is a place where things are impossible until the day they’re not.
Every single growth process I’ve experienced has taken the form of showing up faithfully, day by day, without any clear apprehension of an outcome.
Eating disorder recovery, working through my demons in therapy, facing my fears, developing recipes, practicing yoga—all of these things have taught me that practice and willingness are everything. The process may feel tedious and frustrating sometimes, but there’s usually more transformation happening than we realize.
Until yesterday morning, when I made my way upstate to practice yoga with my community, I was having a rotten mental health week. I felt tired and discouraged. Today, I know that this, too, is an area of my life in which anything is possible.
Not too long ago, my friend Kim directed me to this tweet, from Louise Miller. It reads:
I felt the truth of these words this weekend. I could see with perfect clarity how all of my yoga practice from the last fifteen years has served a purpose, whether I knew it in the moment or not. Every workshop, every mantra I’ve committed to memory, every breakthrough moment.
Even the teachers whose style I didn’t jive with, the classes that didn’t work for my body, the face plants and falls and injuries. All of it has taught me something. All of it has returned to me in some way or another, always with purpose.
It’s hard for me to see this pattern at work in my life off the mat. But I know it’s there. And I’ll keep showing up for it, one day at a time.
Happy Sunday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.
This cucumber soup looks so refreshing!
Since I could live off of cucumbers at this time of year, another cucumber recipe. This time, a crisp, simple, refreshing little salad.
Tomato basil gnocchi, yum.
I’ve never tried hummus pasta, and I need to.
Finally, Izy’s flapjacks look unreal. And she has introduced me to the notion of British flapjacks (oaty squares), which are not to be confused with American flapjacks (pancakes).
1. People who live under the same roof can sometimes “catch” each other’s feelings. This article takes a quick look at “emotional contagion,” including strategies on how loved ones can empathize with each other without getting swallowed up by communicable moods and feelings.
2. How the medical community is reassessing its policies around allowing loved ones to visit those who are ill with Covid-19.
3. I’m always glad to see media calling awareness to orthorexia.
4. Via the New York Times, a new wave of therapeutic interest in headache treatment is offering some hope to those who suffer routinely.
5. A short practice for tapping into fierce self-compassion.
Have a peaceful sleep, everyone.
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