On New Year’s Eve, I was visiting a friend in Colorado who kindly forced me to go with her to a yoga class before embarking on our NYE plans. Now don’t get me wrong – I love a good vinyasa flow, but sweating my butt off for an hour and then rushing to shower, change, and put make up on before heading to a party did not sound like my idea of fun. Listening to Spotify while drinking a glass of wine and trying on my favorite outfits sounded a lot more appealing. But I was her guest so I faked a smile and told her that yoga sounded like a great way to end 2017. It turns out that it was.
As we entered the yoga studio, the instructor asked each of us to grab a small candle from the welcoming desk. He told us that before we began our class, he would lead us in a reflection meditation and intention setting workshop. I walked into the dark room full of unfamiliar faces, spread out my yoga mat, sat in a comfortable seated position, and lit my candle. I didn’t know yet what the candle was for, but a sense of peace filled me as I watched the flame flicker in front of me.
As the instructor guided us through the meditation, he asked if there was anything we wanted to let go of from the year; anything that was weighing us down with sadness and preventing us from leading the life we desired most. My mind instantly started making a list of all the things I wanted to let go of. I wanted to let go of a break up and the sadness it was causing me; I wanted to let go of trying to please everyone all the time; I wanted to let go of the guilt I felt for not being further along in my career; I wanted to let go of self-judgement. I really, really, really wanted to just let go of all the heavy things I was carrying with me every day. Oh, if only that could be done in a 60-minute yoga class.
I realized that while my desire to let go of the hard stuff was normal, it was also a tall order. Unfortunately, there is no magical wand you can buy at Target that instantly alleviates your pain when you wave it three times (trust me - I would have stocked up). The truth is that the hard stuff takes time to let go of, and we can’t rush through the grieving process as much as we desperately want to. The instructor then asked us to turn our focus to setting an intention for the upcoming year. Rather than focusing on all the things I didn’t want, I began envisioning the life I did want to be living. I imagined myself traveling, going to concerts, confidently giving speeches for work on topics that I’m passionate about, and most importantly, believing in my ability to grow and flourish.
The word that kept resounding in my head through the meditation and practice was the word truth. I kept thinking, I want to show up to the world as the truest version of myself; the version of me that is confident, brave, hopeful, and resilient. So many of the things that I want to let go of come from fear, judgement, and resistance. These feelings certainly are present in my life, but they do not reflect my truth. What would happen if I began walking toward my authenticity this year rather than running away from my fears? Perhaps that simple shift in thinking would help shed some of the heavy weight I’ve been carrying. Maybe choosing to turn toward the light rather than away from the dark is where the magic happens.
To living my truth, I whispered quietly to myself as I sat on my yoga mat. And with that wish, that hope for myself, I blew out my candle.