I haven’t had time to reflect recently on it, but my life was once radically different.
Too often in the past, I felt a lot of pressure to do more than I could reasonably and honestly do, and as a consequence it always felt as if there never was enough time to get everything done. Like a good soldier though, I kept plodding forward: I had to do this, I had to do that, I had to systematically tick off all these milestones that were indications of successful living.
In that particular chapter of my life, I never once asked why I was pushing myself so hard and running myself ragged. I seemed surrounded only by friends who had such well-curated lives, and it was all I could do to keep up with the breakneck pace that everybody else seemed to thrive on.
Despite a growing sense of desperation both professionally and personally, I felt I had no other choice but to bottle up all my anxieties and fears and just keep going somehow. I was already practicing yoga at the time, and although I didn’t recognize it, it was the thing giving me solace and real hope in a particularly bleak situation. my yoga practice became an anchor as I tried out different jobs looking for elusive career satisfaction and personal contentment.
When my worrying remained constant despite getting what I thought was an ideal job overseas, I finally understood that maybe something else had to give.
I decided to postpone my next job hunt and instead signed up for a month-long yoga immersion that allowed me to focus not just on things happening in the present moment, but gave me the opportunity to step back and consider what my life would be like in a decade or two if I kept making the same choices over and over again.
The terrifying and hard to admit truth was that despite the jumping from one environment to the next, I always ended up feeling anxious and defeated because I kept falling into the same patterns. I seemed to be perpetuating my own unhappiness in different settings by overlaying my old narrative of dissatisfaction onto every other experience experience of mine.
My struggles on the mat, and perhaps more importantly how I elected to deal with some and evade most others, became these very clear metaphors for all the others thing happening off my mat. it was only when I started to be okay with all the confronting aspects of my own practice that I started getting a sense of understanding and fulfillment out of all the things I was and still am going through.
These days, I still find myself regularly caught up in the hectic swirl of everyday living, but what has been such a welcome change are the times when I’m able to take a step back and realize that I have plenty of say in the kind and volume of work that I do and the situations that I find myself in.
Yoga practice doesn’t make the challenges of everyday modern living magically go away; what it does is to patiently teach me that it really never is too late to change because we have this wondrous ability to keep shaping the way our lives play out in the big and small decisions we constantly make.
Marc Macadaeg is a Manila based yoga teacher (RYT 500). He is the Faculty Head of Urban Ashram Manila and teaches FNR, Vinyasa Flow 1,2,3. His classes are very insightful. Through pranayama and asana practice, his unique way of teaching and sequencing poses gently pushes his students to explore their edge and provides the space for them to discover more about themselves.