Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

In this life, it’s easy to be captured by the grand and extraordinary, forgetting that much of life consists of the mundane and ordinary. Day in and day out, our simple tasks of daily life become a monotonous routine, moving through each one without much thought. We long for the excitement of something big and profound to occur, something, anything, that will wake us from our boredom, to pull us out of our sleepy slumber of doing the same thing over and over. But just how long will you wait? How long will you wait for this big thing to occur, while the rest of your life passes by without you even noticing?

Yes, it is wonderful to feel excitement, the rush of something new, fun, and adventurous, but isn’t all of life truly an adventure? If we only pay attention to the big and exciting things, how many of the smaller things do we end up completely missing?

This is where the subtlety of our yoga practice comes in. When I first started practicing yoga, everything was new. There were big moments for me in every class as I began to reconnect with my body, understand my patterns of movement, and how they had landed me into my stiff and rigid body. After a while, I had become familiar with the various poses and I settled in. The wow moments became quieter and less frequent, and I noticed there were some classes I felt completely bored. My mind felt frustrated with the class I was attending that seemed just the same as the class before. I wanted to constantly experience something new, to feel excitement rushing through my body that ignited all of my sense organs in this “whoa” kind of way.

It took me some time, but I began to realize that in my eagerness to constantly learn something new, I was missing the very opportunity of what the repetitiveness of practice offered me. My focus on the big and overtly noticeable was causing me to overlook what was small and subtle. I didn’t see how the very act of showing up, again and again, was making a difference. While my mind was stuck on wondering why I could not yet balance into handstand, the strength and stability I was building in warrior II went unnoticed – until one day it didn’t.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard a teacher say, “Because our breath occurs unconsciously, when you bring consciousness to it, you can bring consciousness to everything.” That was a big moment for me, as it opened the doorway to understanding how much of life’s smaller moments we miss when we aren’t paying attention. And that even in the smallest and most repetitive of things, something new and wonderous can always be found.

We wait for many, many things, with so much waiting that often there ends up being no time left to experience what we were waiting for. But also, in this waiting, if moving without awareness, we might not even be ready for when what we have been waiting for finally arrives. If my teachers did not help to guide me in the consistent and repetitive practice of basic poses, I would never have been ready for handstands, no matter how many times it was offered to me. It was within directing my awareness to that which I was repeating, that allowed me to explore the subtler aspects of my being and how I was working into the poses I had written off as boring or mundane.

Yoga teaches us how to move from the gross external layer towards the inner, layer by layer, until we eventually realize the inner exploration is infinite. Until we have the capacity to be fully conscious of every single moment, we have work to do. My hope is that within this work, a deeper sense of gratitude and wonder can be developed for all of the smaller moments in our life.

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