For years, my mother always told me “do what you love” and repeated a Shakespeare quote “to thine own self be true.” I never believe it was possible. How, in a high paced, never-ending, technology driven world, could I stop and take time for me. Throughout high school and now into my college years, life has been filled with meetings, classes, sports, and obligations to friends and families. A girlfriend realizes her boyfriend is cheating on her, do I tell her she’ll have to wait, that I must finish reading my history chapter? Of course not, I run to her side, despising every minute of it and loathing this boy for ruining my pre-scheduled, jam packed, get-all-my-work-done-and-then-some evening. If a co-worker needs shifts covered to go home for a funeral or a family gathering, I take it for them, gladly, but secretly, I long for the same opportunity to go away, to escape from my current world.
I feel foolish. I do not run a global corporation, leading a team of thousands, nor am I the editor for a daily newspaper trying to get every fact, headline, story, and lead in perfect order for the millions reading it first thing every morning. I am a college student, taking five courses, working as a staff member of a residence hall. But, I know that every minute of my every day is scheduled. Every minute has a purpose and every moment of sleep or downtime, which seems very rare, is cherished and well deserved. I love my family, honor my parents, am always ready to help a friend, and am a reliable employee. When do I have time for myself? When can I breathe? How do those around me survive? I am sensing that any moment now, I will be recovering after an evening of head shaving and permanent tattoos, similar to the mental breakdown of a pop-star formally cherished by “tweens” everywhere.
As I begin my downward spiral, further complicated by emails, text messages, and my beloved blackberry, I realize that I need to stop. I need to relax, push all of my worries, headaches, and troubles away. There is only one thing I know can fix my craving for rejuvenation and time away from the world: yoga. Yoga: a path to enlightenment. That’s what I need. It was only five years ago that I took up the practice of yoga. Almost immediately, I lost my blues with each pose, whether it was down dog or reversed moon, my troubles melted away with my sweat. This simple practice helps me move from distress to de-stress. Twice a week for two hours, I am an empowered woman able to do anything. I can move with my breath, work muscles that I didn’t know existed, and am finally able to focus entirely on my body, my mind, and my spirit. When I am glued to that mat, my cell phone is off, my books are closed, and the pressure is lifted off of my shoulders.
This I believe is the meaning to life: I must find happiness in the world around me, love those I cherish, but most importantly, I must find happiness within. The only way, in my currently chaotic life, is to practice yoga. Through the meditation, being aware of my body, and taking time away from my daily life, I can lead the life of a truly happy woman. I live for the one simple word my instructor says at the end of our practice: namaste, the divine in me bows to the divine in you.
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