What Conditions Do You Need to Create in Order For Your Life to Flourish? – by Darci Nyal
Every morning I sit on my new patio and drink my coffee starring at the wilderness taking over spring like there is a hidden artist slowly painting each blade of grass, each shrub – adding vibrancy back in from the long winter. Every morning I’m stunned at what has changed in less than 24 hours. I try to take it all in but there is too much. The blossoms on the trees that look like white cotton balls. The butterfly like baby leaves in search of the sun’s light. And the humming birds, so enthusiastic that they whip around the air chasing each other and then pausing effortlessly to drink more sugar water. I am always at my happiest sitting in the bush, witnessing how perfectly imperfect nature is. How without even trying nature has an impecable way of creating just the right conditions in which it flourishes.
I often wonder how it is that one can integrate nature’s lessons into daily living, so that effortlessly, we too can be at our best. To notice the intimate details of nature is to get really quiet, and instead of retreating and ruminating in our head, one must listen. Not just with the ears, but with our eyes, our body our heart. If nature does this on the regular in order to adapt, to change, to adjust its own environment, how do we mirror those same qualities? What do we need to adjust in order to be more like nature? Because lets face it, we all want to create just the right conditions in which our life flourishes.
But what is it that I want to flourish?
To understand this question in its entirety, I have to be willing to look at what is not flourishing in my life. As Brene Brown explains in her TED talk on “The Power of Vulnerability,” she explains that in her academic research, as soon as she started asking about connection, people started sharing why they felt disconnected. When she asked about love, she was told horrific stories of heartbreak. So if I’m going to ask what it is that I want to flourish in my life, I have to have the balls to ask the question, what isn’t flourishing? And this is a tough question because we don’t like looking at what is messy or not working in our life. And too often we feel paralyzed by the need for change to happen, or we feel like it’s out of our control. So with all the nervousness in the world, I did just this. My devotion to a contemplative practice started by asking what wasn’t working in my life?
What I found was marvellous and scary. Like looking up at the night sky and seeing Northern Lights dance across the sky, I have had so many incredible awh-ha moments over the last year that have lead me to a place where I genuinely feel like I’m living a life that is for me and a life that is flourishing. But as the theory of opposites suggests, in order for greatness to thrive, we must have seen messiness at some point. My life in the past year has been everything messy. But it was a path I chose to walk down, and through, and around, up and over, until one day, I realized I was exactly where I wanted to be and was meant to be.
A lot of my life has shifted over the past year and throughout it all I am consistently reminded of when Michael Stone said, “you have to create the conditions in which you want something to flourish”. These are all the things I did to help move myself through change:
- Burry yourself – I was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue last spring which had me both perplexed and overwhelmed. After my pouting ceased, I started to sit regularly and took an online course with Michael Stone on Pranayama. Sometimes you have to burry yourself deep into the soil, and although on the outside it looks like nothing is happening, everything is changing. And over time, your roots grow deeper and deeper, and what is left is the anchor required for growth to occur. It was during this time of solitude that I began to tame my thoughts so that I was able to listen to my body for the first time. And when I became still, all my body asked for was rest. It took a really long time for the space between each thought to distance themselves enough for me to be able to hear what my body needed… But once I felt it, there was no turning back. Not only did I need rest, but I needed to reset my entire nervous system. Even though I had been trained my entire life to be a work horse, my body was telling me different.
- Rest up and be unapologetic about it – I was about 10 or 11 when my dad had a minor heart attack. When I was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue last year, I had a good chuckle, “Well at least it wasn’t a heart attack.” Society teaches us to destroy our body in the pursuit of success. This was reinforced by growing up on a farm, by becoming a mom too young, and by feeling the need to live up to other people’s expectations of me. When I buried myself, when I truly listened, I recognized that the only person I should be listening to is me. To heck with everyone else. So when I had a chance to move, I decided to move into the bush, where I could be in the stillness of nature. To take long baths again, and to go to bed early every single day.
- Stop poisoning your body – Now every body is different, so what will work for you might be entirely different than what worked for me. Part of my healing with Adrenal Fatigue means I can’t consume anything that is a hormone disrupter. That means coffee, alcohol and sugar. Now, those who know me, know that I still love to have drinks. haha. I can’t do it all! But I am drinking decaf coffee, I’m not eating anything with refined sugars in them, and when I do drink, it’s whiskey or gin with water and lemons. Yes I still have fun. Yes I’m sort of annoying at restaurants. But I’m sleeping better, I’m not dealing with mid-day cravings that had me huddled up with the fridge door open, and chocolate all over my fingers! A surprising side effect that I have to admit is that my mood swings 5 days before my period are almost entirely obsolete, I don’t have the same intense cramping as I once did, and my digestion feels stable.
- Own your choices – If you hate cooking, stop pressuring yourself to cook all the time. If you love to sleep in, sleep the heck in. If you love your job and you love working at it more than you love being in a relationship…. own it! Seriously. You don’t need to juggle other people’s expectations with that of your own. I’m done feeling like I’m suppose to get married and have children by 34 because that is what is expected of me. I’m done feeling like I need to only work 7.5 hours a day because that is what everyone tells me I’m suppose to do. I’m done stressing over not having bought a home and I’m 32. I love to work. I love to run. I love to practice hot yoga and I love to rock out in a Moksha Fit class. I am okay with renting, and I’m okay with the fact that I would much rather develop healthy relationships with my teachers/ambassadors/members than trying to have babies. Not that any of this is inherently wrong for others. It’s just not what I want with my life right now.
- Stop doing things for other people – yes, I am serious. We live in an age where we have 5 times the number of friends than the generation previous to us. This means we have 5 times the amount of requests to help friends move, to attend birthday parties and charity events, to sit on a board for a charitable organization. Now don’t get me wrong. If you want to be on a board, go for it. If you want to be the life of the party, head to all the parties. But if you are doing any of these because it’s the ‘right thing to do’ or because you are trying to please others, stop right there. Those who truly love you will not mind if you drop all the extra things you do in a week that stress you the heck out.
- Say what you really mean – this might come off as a bit mean the first 100 times you do it, so I heavily encourage you to be rooted in the previous points first. There is a delicate balance between what you want to say, and how to say it in a way that honours where you are at and honours where the other person is at. It takes practice, so make mistakes, own them and move on.
- Notice who you bitch to – All of us do this. We call a friend, lover, parent and tell them our woes. This can be good, but it can also be really unhealthy. Mostly because we are pretty good at contacting those who reinforce unhealthy limited beliefs. I started to see a therapist about a year ago, who basically helped me to understand that it isn’t fair for me to put my stresses and worries on other people. That instead, I should be reaching out to the person with whom isn’t going to carry my drama. You might know what I mean. Have you ever had a friend call you, unload on you and then all of sudden they feel better, but now you feel anxious and worried for no reason? Ya, it happens. Our intention is to be supportive to our friends and family, but it often translates in complaining sessions that are super negative and not at all effective. I don’t see Beth nearly as frequently as I did when I first started going to see her, but she has been so helpful in engaging in intelligent conversations to help me work through various issues in my life. The best part is now when I do call my friends and family, I can focus my attention on great things that are happening in mine and their life.
- Make time for what you really want to do – When I was a kid, I wanted to play the piano, I wanted to dance, I wanted to play the guitar. I never did any of it. I’m not ignoring the voice inside my head that is calling me to live my life fully. I want to play guitar, so now I am playing guitar. I want to play volleyball, so I am. I want to write seriously, so I found an editor who thinks I’m a terribly great writer and is willing to help me grow.
When I look back over the last year, I am in shock and aw that my life is where it is today. Never thought I’d be single again, and I never thought I’d ever live on my own. I also never thought I’d ever get away from this anxiety that seemed to plague me for many, many years. For too long I was creating the conditions for anxiety, worry and unhappiness to flourish. Now, with the help of stillness and spaciousness, a contemplative practice and even a little help from a therapist, I am tapping into the lessons that nature offer me.
Darci is an avid student and teacher who feels that yoga doesn’t stop once you get off your mat. It’s a lifestyle, a way of living, and a way of taking care of those around you. With an unwavering attention to detail and an innate curiosity about the human body, Darci is a dedicated student of the Moksha Yoga community, both as a studio owner, a teacher and a student. Raised in a flow based community, Darci has studied Moksha, Moksha Flow, Moksha Level Two and Yin under the guidance of Angela Zawada and the greater Moksha Yoga faculty. She is always inspired by the teachings of Michael Stone and that to live a life that is full and supported, you have to engage in conversation and take care of each other and yourself. She is humbled by each member of this community (sangha), and their love for life!