This summer, my boyfriend and I were petsitting a family member’s parrot. In our one-bedroom apartment. With our cat! It’s in the cat’s nature to want to hunt the bird. I never thought, “our cat is being bad.” She was just doing what cats do. Instead, we put up appropriate boundaries to ensure successful cohabitation: we put the bird in our bedroom and were careful to keep the door shut.
I thought often about this situation and how I could learn more about mindfulness from it. For me, mindfulness is about being open to seeing the true nature of myself, the world, and – most challenging – to see that true nature without making a judgment. Not bad. Not good. Just how it is. The benefit of this is being able to put up boundaries in my life that are more constructive because they work with my true nature and that of the people around me. Instead of trying to change myself it’s more effective to create situations that maximize my chance of succeeding. It’s kinder and easier to close the door than to expect the cat to stop being a cat.
I’m used to judging my behavior every day as good (I washed the dishes) or bad (I got to work late). Mindfulness challenges me to see it, accept it, and set boundaries that are impartial. In my yoga practice I observe that I am more strong than I am flexible. This means I need to set a boundary not to use my strong muscles to push my body into shapes it’s not stretchy enough to do. It’s in my nature to do this so sometimes this means I have to take poses out of my practice or modify them until I observe – as impartially as possible – that I’m ready for them.
Questions for reflection:
- Consider your true nature. Is it different depending on what area of your life you are experiencing a challenge – e.g. in your yoga practice, your career, your relationships, etc?
- To avoid judging your true nature or that of those around you, can you instead be grateful that you were able to identify it?
- What boundaries can you set to work with your true nature rather than against it?
This article was provided by Katie Pizziketti as part of a new monthly series, Attitude for Gratitude, in which Katie will explore using gratitude to cultivate a mindful and positive active lifestyle. Join Katie for practice on Sundays at 12:30pm.
Yoga is a treasured part of Katie’s fitness lifestyle. She uses it to build strength, flexibility, and body awareness which complement her interests in running, weight training, and interval exercise. Katie is using yoga to improve her range of motion and wellbeing in ways which were missing from her other exercise routines.
Katie developed an appreciation for accessibility – creating things that can be used by people of any ability level – after several years of working with adults living with serious mental illnesses and other limitations. Her belief is that almost anything can be achieved with the right attitude (and modifications). She loves helping people find their own doable pose that is just the right amount of difficult. Her high-energy classes focus on becoming stronger and stretchier with a smile!
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