- michelle m. davis
Out of Alignment
Yesterday, my yoga instructor shared that the class would primarily focus on alignment. This made total sense. After all, I understand how aligned postures are critical in yoga because if the positioning of your body on the mat is not correct, then you have a faulty foundation for whatever pose you attempt to do. Not only can poor alignment be counter-productive to the multiple benefits that yoga offers, but it also can lead to injury.
Hearing her use this term triggered an “aha” moment. It made me realize how crucial alignment is in all aspects of our lives. When we find ourselves “off,” we lose our stability and are less equipped to deal with daily stressors. That’s when it hit me. I’d been out of alignment all last week. That’s why I felt incredibly emotional, raw, off kilter!
Let me backtrack for a moment… my husband and I have decided to downsize. While this is not a unique phenomenon for people in the mid-fifties, what may be a bit rare is the history that I hold with our home. My father, his sister and his mother built our house in the late fifties. Then, my parents and I moved here when I was five. Eighteen years ago, we bought the house and have lived here ever since. When I started adding up the years I’ve spent in this place, well, let’s just say that it’s a lot. I believe that I’ve celebrated a portion of every Christmas in this home. Additionally, the space holds precious memories… “teaching school” to my stuffed animals in my playroom, sleepovers during elementary schools, sneaking my first cigarette, coming down the steps in my wedding gown, and so many other milestones. Our children were four and two when we moved here, so most of their memories of “home” center on this particular space. I can only imagine how strange this new move must seem to them.
Over the years, this house has had multiple transformations, testing it’s own alignment no doubt! There have been additions and deletions, carpeting then hardwood flooring, white walls, then orange walls… and that’s just inside. The outside has seen numerous makeovers as the landscaping has been altered over the years. But, through it all, this place has been my anchor, a huge sort for comfort for me. As a child, it was where my imagination soared, as a teenager, it provided solace during those emotional rollercoaster years, and as an adult, it was the backdrop to our daily life as well as my safe haven when I went through chemotherapy.
This home has seen awesome family dinners, quiet evenings on the patios with good friends, and every-day moments when it’s just been my husband and me. Our house has given us a great deal, and we’ve tried to be the best possible stewards in return.
But now it’s time to move on… to make another place ours. As I began the clean out process this past week, I became sad… plain and simple… weepy, actually. Did I regret our decision? Not in the least because I know we are on the path that is right for us. Still, that doesn’t erase the emotion that I’ve attached to our home. If I could just walk away without any tears, after so many years in this space, what would that say about my time here? Yes, the memories will last and remain mine; they do not belong to the physical structure of the house. And, beautiful moments definitely lie ahead. Regardless, I needed this past week to let go, to release this space as “our house” so that someone new can take our place and become its owners. After all, this yard needs children to run through the grass, the pools screams for a family to splash in its water, and the empty rooms desire to be lived in. Passages… that is what this is all about. It’s quite natural and something we all go through. But, that doesn’t make it any easier.
That is why I so appreciated my amazing yoga instructor so beautifully reminding me of the importance of alignment. I had lost mine, and I believe that was a significant factor as to why I was struggling so much with this change. For when we are in true alignment, we can move with ease and better deal with life’s stressors. This doesn’t mean that everything flows effortless. But, having a strong, balanced foundation allows us to face the challenges with a healthier perspective. When centered, our reactions are more thoughtful and our decisions are clearer.
No doubt the next months will be filled with unanticipated issues and unforeseen dilemmas as we transition from one home to another. I’m not that naïve to believe that there won’t be hiccups along the way. In fact, I’m expecting them. But, now I know that for me to best handle whatever comes my way, I need to be in true alignment.
So, how do I stay in alignment? What can I do to help myself remain grounded, even when chaos exists? I asked myself that those exact questions, and here is what I remembered. Daily writing remains critical for me to be my best. But, when I become “too busy,” I’m prone to skip journaling, blogging, or working on my novel. After all, this practice takes time, and when the “to do” list goes onto the next page, I eliminate beneficial habits so that I can deal with the more pressing issues. Additionally, I recognize that I perform best when I meditate, practice yoga, and exercise. While yoga and exercise are the last things that I’ll cut from my day, I’m quick to ignore meditating. It’s incredibly difficult to quiet the mind when the monkey inside furiously jumps from branch to branch. Yet, even if I can somewhat tame my monkey, doing so is well worth the effort, even if only for a few minutes. Finally, my body requires appropriate sleep and healthy foods to function at its optimal level. When I skimp on either, I easily sense the change.
Understanding and listening to what I require for alignment won’t guarantee smooth sailing, but it will help ease the way. Several days of being out of alignment clearly reminded me how important it is for me to keep myself grounded and centered. It’s clear what I need to do to maintain a more aligned presence. Sure, these practices take time away from “getting it all done,” but when I can stay true to what my body, mind, and spirit need, I find that the rest flows so much more smoothly… and not only am I happier, but my family is, too!