How to Find the Next Level of Peace Doing What You Love

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“Each thought, each action in the sunlight of awareness becomes sacred.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

I have a question for you. What do you do for fun? Cooking? Biking? Baking? Martial Arts? I don’t mean something that takes no effort like reading or watching a movie, but something that takes work – yet you love doing it when you have time.

I love taking a day to cook or do an intense yoga practice. I feel at peace and it helps me clear my mind so I can relax.

The other day, I had one of those, “OMG, I can’t believe it” moments in the middle of a super sweaty yoga practice (the room was particularly hot).

I noticed I was quietly critiquing myself.

How could this be happening?

I have worked so hard on my emotional workouts – I am aware of my thoughts and I have stopped most of the negative loops that have overwhelmed my life for years.

But that was the problem. I was looking for full thoughts, sentences that were taking me down, not half thoughts.

Here’s what I mean.

I am totally inflexible. I mean it is embarrassing for a yogi to remain this inflexible, but somehow I manage – genetics are what they are I guess.

So I was diving down into a forward fold and that is when I noticed – a deep internal disappointment with myself.

Thankfully, I had practiced my curiosity workouts, so I did not add more negativity to the moment by judging my disappointment.

I watched the thought in my mind, the subtle judgement, that I only folded down low enough to reach my shins and even that hurt a bit. In that moment, without thought, I let my judgment go. I replaced my junk food thought with an nutritional one. I said to myself, “Your forward fold is good enough.”

And I really meant it.

And in that moment, in the insanely hot yoga room, I let go of my last bit of judgement and instantly my head relaxed into the pose, my eyes settled back into a more relaxed state, my neck, shoulders and back relaxed just a little bit more.

That’s the thing. I realized I was holding out – I was leaving a little room for judgment. I was telling myself I was ok with my forward fold, but still there was a holdout. There was still a small amount of judgment.

And here is the thing about that small amount of judgment – it adds up. An average yoga class has somewhere near 50 poses that challenge my inflexible body. So that is 50+ opportunities to quietly judge myself.

When I let go of my hold out and I truly accepted my physical limits, I removed 50+ moments of small self-criticism.

Here is the part that is really crazy – I love yoga. I am happy in yoga. So if I am doing this in something I love, I started to think about how many small hold outs I had throughout the day doing things I don’t love as much.

I spent the rest of my day noticing all the little comments that I had not considered worth thinking about – I mean how important is it if I self-criticize a bit throughout the day? Apparently, it matters a lot.

So next time you are taking time to do something you love, can you refrain from any judgments?

Can you release any need to make things better than they are?

Can you let your efforts be enough just one time?

And can you mean it?

Give it a try. Let me know if you find a deeper level of peace doing what you love.

 

 

 

 

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