Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Showing Up Isn't Enough

By Healingyoga

Years ago I did something for a friend, something that I didn't really want to do. I put on a brave face, thinking I was doing my friend a favor, all the while focused on the fact that I wasn't doing something that I wanted. I felt pretty darned self righteous about it. Here I was, being a good friend, doing the right thing, taking one for the team. My ego went so far as to encourage me to be proud of myself -- after all, I was doing an unselfish thing, right?!?! Despite my self-aggrandizement, my friend wasn't happy. 

I was puzzled by his annoyance. After all, I did what he wanted, right? That's when he said to me the magic words -- "It's not what you did -- it's how you did it." Whoa -- talk about a wake-up call. Of course, at the time, I didn't want to wake up. I wanted to push snooze a little bit longer.

Years go by and I find myself in a yoga training that requires the students to practice a certain type of yoga. Since I was practicing a different style entirely, I didn't like this My inner whine kicked into full effect: "Oh come on! I'm here in the training, aren't I? I'm being a good student. I'm doing all the work. Do I really need to do this?" There, my friends, was my flashback moment. My friend's words from years before echoed in my head. Yes, I was physically showing up in the training, but was I there emotionally or in spirit? Was I in with my whole self or just going through the motions?

For a long time, merely showing up felt like enough to me. Now I've come to realize that showing up is just half of it. How I'm showing up is what truly makes the difference. I see this in my yoga clients. There are some folks who physically show up to each session. Yes, they are distracted, and they have all sorts of beliefs about yoga and around what they are or aren't capable of. Sometimes they're thinking that being at the session and going through the emotions is enough. It isn't.

During that training, I realized that in order to really be in the training, I had to be truly and completely present. For me, that meant giving up the style of yoga that I was used to and switching over to a practice that incorporated what I was studying. Sure, I could "phone it in," as they say, but what would be the point of that? It's like saying "yes?" rather than "yes!" Believe me, there's a difference.

In the end, that training turned into one of the most transformative experiences of my life. I showed up in every way, and it made every difference in the world. When I notice myself slacking off in life or simply going through the motions on my yoga mat, I remind myself that the act of showing up isn't enough. There has to be some intention behind it, a deep sense of presence, an all-in attitude.

When that training came to an end, my fellow graduates and I had a little wrap party. Everyone seemed to be lamenting the fact that the training was over. There were some tears and a lot of sadness. Yes, I was sorry to see the end as well, but I felt more satisfied than sad. I poured my whole self into that training and soaked up every moment, so when it was over I felt joy. In showing up with my whole self I enjoyed every moment and wasn't sad when the moment ended. I had had my fill and didn't need to hold on. 

It may have taken me years to really get it, but I finally understood what my friend was telling me. Right now I'm in something in which I've jumped in with both feet. I'm there with everything that I've got. I don't hold back and I am uber present. In fact, I'm showing up in such a big, whole-hearted way that someone commented on this fact. I was told that I had earned this person's respect for showing up so fully and not backing down. Hearing that felt good. Yes, I felt complimented, but I also recognized the truth in her statement. I'm all in. And nothing makes me prouder.

Are you showing up in your life and/or on your yoga mat? If so, how are you showing up?

I find that asking myself the tough questions results in some insightful answers.



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