Saturday, March 5, 2011

When we have to "make do"

For nearly three months now, life has been a bit unsettling, and my yoga practice has taken a backseat to moving, traveling, earthquaking, and finally unpacking a suitcase after living out of one for nearly those entire three months. With the ability to settle has come a return to seek some sense of normalcy, a sense of stability, a sense of living my own life again.

I have begun to dive back into a home yoga practice, both asana and meditation focused. It is all too easy after so much time away to focus on what makes it too hard to begin a practice again such as funny looks from my housemates, especially the 8-year-old, or the carpet on the floor when my yoga mat is on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. These circumstances make it more difficult to practice, and sometimes it is much easier to skip it altogether and convince myself that yoga is really more about doing it off the mat, but as I mentioned before, that lets the bucket of yoga empty, and it gets harder to live a yoga life.

Practicing asana the other morning on the carpet, however, I realized that this is what yoga is. It is about adjusting to the circumstances and learning to use the body and mind in new ways. Doing Downward Facing Dog on carpet, especially slippery carpet, requires different muscles and different energies than when done on a mat. This does not make it impossible but instead forces me to tune into what is really happening, to pay more attention to the moment. Of course, this requires finding muscles I did not know I had. It is difficult and interesting all at the same time.

Life in a yoga studio, on a yoga mat, is superficial in many ways. We get as close to “perfect” as possible for the practice of yoga – cell phones off, slip-less mat, community energy, and someone to guide you through a practice. Life, however, does not function like that. Instead, we get thrown into situations, and sometimes we have to learn how to “make do” with what happens to be thrown our way. With a yoga practice, that could mean slippery carpet and a barking dog or lack of time, a sprained ankle, or simply no motivation.

As a lawyer, the “make do” quality often comes from the circumstances of a case – from who the client is to who the other parties are to who the other attorneys and judges are. There is no question that sometimes the “undesirable” client and opposing attorney arrive, and you have to find ways of working with them all. This can be a moment of frustration or a moment to find new "muscles," (not the competitive ones, of course) or new ways of being the best attorney you can be.

This is not a new concept. Being flexible is necessary in life, and it is especially important for lawyers and all of us in modern life. But it is quite a leap to fully recognize, and dare I say appreciate, that challenges can be our greatest teachers and lead us to discovering that which is strongest within us. There is a difference between just sitting back and accepting your “terrible” circumstances and using them to reach into yourself and discover your true strength and maybe even learning to love the situation.

Sometimes, of course, it still is not the best situation, but you have learned that you can handle it. Then, when you get a moment to break away from the situation, the world outside of it is that much brighter. For me, this week, that means a chance to go to a yoga class, meet some new people, and go food shopping to stock up and prepare for a week instead of living in restaurants. In lawyer-speak, this can mean a case finally settles or the client goes on vacation or you get to work on a different case and realize that it is one you truly enjoy. So, from our less-than-ideal situations, we can find our own inner strength, but we can also appreciate the better circumstances more. After all, spring is extra beautiful because it is preceded by winter, right?

What circumstances have led to you finding new muscles and ways of interacting? In what other ways have these circumstances opened your eyes?


© 2011 Rebecca Stahl, all rights reserved
This blog is not affiliated with Fulbright or Fulbright New Zealand, and all opinions expressed herein are my own.


  1. Good post. Glad you're getting settled and finding new muscles after the first 2 months overseas.

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