“Live your life by design, rather than default.”
Sometimes in order for something new to be created, what has been needs to be erased. As COVID-19 hit the world this past year, life as many knew it was shaken up and wiped away. The good news is, in the face of change we often get to explore our greatest potential. This is the beauty of working with a blank canvas.
Likely, we’ve all experienced either opportunity or struggle in “beginning again” during the months of COVID-19. The reality is that you’ve probably felt a little bit of both. What ideas did you have to scrap? What grew in that empty place? Where do you go when you have to start over? Are you inspired and hopeful? Do you shrink back and hide? Or, do you move forward with a plan, knowing that there is always more, even if it looks different than your imaginings?
Like your yoga practice, every time you roll out your mat and move you get to feel from a new perspective; experience a new set of aches and pains or areas that feel open and free. Perhaps you’re in a fantastic mood, a little tired or feeling the pain of raw heartbreak. Our experience is not the same from day to day, season to season or varying stages of life. Each time we practice yoga asana, meditation or pranayama, we also get to practice looking within at what we really want according to the current circumstances, where we are going and how to get there in the best way we can. These inquiries come up each time we start a new project, new relationship or let something go that was ready to fall away, like the leaves in fall making way for winter to then welcome fresh buds in spring.
In Ayurveda (a way of living that teaches us to balance the elements in nature with what’s going on inside ourselves), winter is naturally a time when pause and quiet are necessary. As explained by Dr. Claudia Welch, doctor of oriental medicine and Ayurvedic practitioner and educator, Ayurveda is a medicine of subtraction. She states, “Sometimes the medicine of subtraction can be even more effective than the addition of a medicine. It can take tremendous courage to stop doing something we are doing that is out of alignment with our innermost essence.”
Taking things off your plate can help you favor stillness, steadiness and deep nourishment to allow your creativity, enthusiasm and your true vision to shine through.
In our current global situation, you may be reimagining a life you had planned. If not, you know that a complete pivot is never off the table. While life is in constant flux, it’s up to us to embrace the rhythm of change and be willing to artfully start from square one. Yes, tearing up something you’ve worked hard on is messy and frustrating, but once in a while it’s what we need to do in order to avoid stagnancy, repeating our mistakes and becoming complacent. Being perfectly prepared isn’t always possible, but there are action steps we can take so we can turn toward the sweetness of change and careful construction rather than wallow in the fear of it.
Move your body.
Do what lights you up.
Be willing to rip out the page of what doesn’t and throw it away — something better will arrive in its place if you make the room for it.
A fresh canvas offers infinite possibilities, newness, a chance to rise up, serve and be happier. A blank white lined page in a notebook is ready to be filled with your story. Don’t be afraid of subtracting. Let’s celebrate destruction for its ability to bring about purpose, creation and reconfiguration. When you live your life by design, rather than default, what comes to the surface?
Art by Haily Trevisiol. Blank Canvas
Originally published in the Winter + Spring 2020-21 issue of CO YOGA + Life Magazine.