• Emily Shain

Living in Cycles

The 2017 cycle closed recently. And if you live a reflective life then you've probably already done some check-ins about where you've been and where you want to go. But why is there so much noise around this time of year in particular? When in fact you are inhabiting and taking part in an infinite amount of cycles and processes all the time. There are the cycles of your breath, your day, your relationships, your passions and interests, your yoga practice on the mat, and on the grandest scale, your life. All cycles exist as evolving processes--you can visualize them as a circle, a wave or maybe a flower; planted, blooming, wilted in winter, and reborn once again in spring. Whichever you chose, let’s visualize a cycle’s outline together for a moment. Some growing processes take longer than others and definitely not all of them are created equal--some are intrinsically more important progressions to us than others. All the same in nature, cycles are a way of defining our humanity through time and its forever developing phases. This perspective, if we choose to adopt it, becomes then a defining aspect of how we live and perceive our experiences. Why? Because cycles are whole. They are as natural as the seasons, and they can teach us meaningful lessons about what it means to be human. They come as a package deal of beginnings and conclusions with virtually EVERYTHING to experience in between, no exceptions. And they are achingly powerful: potentially making us motivated, in love, and excited or sad, stuck and lost. However, all these processes are enriched by one thing specifically: our ability and choice to reflect upon them. Whether that's meditating on a breath or bringing understanding and closure to relationships, reflection on these life-within-life cycles gives meaning and wholeness to our experiences. It is the essence of looking at life holistically rather than in detached, meaningless parts. Here are two extremities that we’ve probably all experienced, at one point or another, which will help me convey my thoughts further:One extreme is getting stuck so deep into reflection that the mind misses the train into potential new cycles of being. Too much concentration on one cycle—why it worked like this and didn't happen like that—brings all spinning wheels of energy to a halt. It cages energy so tightly that focus is contained into only an aspect of the whole. Can you recall the last time you felt this? When something weighed so heavily in your mind and heart that it seemed impossible to keep a wider perspective on things. This is a trapping or destructive cycle: one of repetitive, partial thinking featuring our “monkey mind” in the starring role. Our mind loves going there—obsessing—if it finds a good enough reason. The other extreme is closing the door on reflection; acting without awareness or interest into the potential of self-wonder and discovery. This is a colder, protective and detached way of being and isn't necessarily wrong. Sometimes we lack the strength or energy to dedicate time to topics that are difficult for us. But this mode of being is not fully alive and vital…in other words, not true to our capacity as deeply thoughtful human beings. If you're there, that’s okay—you can even see that state of being as a cycle of its own (probably that understanding in itself will offer some kindness, lightness and support). With time—in your time—you might check in again. See if there’s room to open up to a pinch of self-reflection despite what you may find in that sensitive place. Ultimately, being open is the master key to spiraling and entering into a renewed state of being. The truth is you must work hard for your well-being. It might be the hardest work you ever do: to unwind all the knots and undo all the patterns and pain; to cleanse yourself from past cycles in order to come into new ones that await you. But the process of self-discovery is undoubtedly one of the best ones we can know and journey through. This is the message of this discussion. To keep practicing towards self-discovery and to find connection, a narrative that keeps you engaged in that learning. Not just on January 1st but every single day. What cycles would you like to enter? What cycles would you like to swiftly exit? What suitcase would you like to pack with you into this new circle, this new wave, this new blooming flower, this new year? For me?I would say the core and its energy can be brought pretty much everywhere and will help me and you to thrive there. Compassionate understanding towards self and others is also one of those endless developments. Truth is another one. Exercising truth as much as possible with the exception to when silence is a better friend. Living passionately and kindly, and then sharing a passionate and kind life with as many people in as many ways as possible. Most importantly, continuing to practice: yoga, well-being, love, kindness, wholeness—anything that means enough to stay present in that work. That's enough reflection for today...Off to living!! Welcome 2018 ॐ P.S. For anyone interested in talking about these topics further, you can join my upcoming lecture and yoga workshop on January 24th at @mindspace. Click the link for more: