For two and half weeks at the edge of Todos Santos, Mexico, I was immersed in yoga teacher training. In tents we slept listening to the ocean. All day we practiced postures and learned how to teach yoga. It was heavenly.
No matter how good I felt, our teacher would instruct us to “make it feel good,” when settling into poses. For all the anatomy and detailed cueing we reviewed, adopting the construct of a pose, gently understanding our body’s reaction, and being mindful not to push too hard was deemed just as important. For all our intellect and physical strength, “making it feel good” can be at odds with our typical mentality. Yoga is precise, but every body is different. In fact, our own bodies are different from day to day. “Make it feel good” requires a tremendous depth of awareness; it’s not an invitation to be lax. It’s a focused letting go.
This memory reminds me of another, at a less exotic locale. I was shopping with my Dad for my first car, to be financed entirely by me. After a long day, I’d narrowed to two choices. One seemed like a slightly better deal financially, but I preferred the other aesthetically and condition-wise. I asked my Dad for his advice, assuming he’d have a clearcut opinion. His response: Do what you are most comfortable with. A trained accountant, it was surprising to see that comfort and emotion played into his mindset. But he was right.
Since then, I pass on both mantras to clients and friends looking for organizing and decision-making advice. Once you grasp the anatomy of a yoga posture, you can focus on making it feel good. When you’re considering cars well within your price range, an understanding of yourself and what feels right to you becomes the compass. These are lessons with far reaching applications.
When we find ourselves digging deep into a downsizing project, getting our financials in order, and creating clear systems to keep our lives flowing efficiently, we must call on that internal compass to help us make some final decisions. We must acknowledge that there aren’t “right” answers, as this tends to be where all the good work begins to break down. Decision fatigue has set in and we have too many data points to consider; too much research and emotions pointing us in different directions. While we may be positioned to make great decisions, we need to feel directed and confident in making them. In other words, once we understand the pose or are choosing between two good cars, we don’t have to drive ourselves crazy. Minimalism is about keeping it simple, after all.
And yet, despite the greater flexibility and freedom, and the relief of pressure and mind chatter, I find that people are less comfortable with this approach. They ignore their comfort and inward investigation of what feels good. Instead, they stress over the risk of not making the right decision. They believe the right or wrong construct is worth it, because they might make the right one. The payoff of which would make everything perfect. But there is no perfect. Happiness and stress reduction will elude you if you don’t take the time to intimately know yourself and, in doing so, have the ability and kindness to make your life feel good. This is the point of the lessons my yoga teacher and Dad put in simple terms.
When we are trying to get everything to fit just right, it’s important to hear these words, “Do what you are comfortable with.” Because in the end, nurturing the relationship with yourself, within the context of personal growth, is the sweet spot of making it feel good. It is your home, it is your life. It should feel good.