There's a thing most yoga instructors say at the beginning of class. It starts with an acknowledgment of how chaotic being a person in the world can feel. Your racing mind, ten steps ahead of where you currently are in your day; the stress of an upcoming holiday; the tumultuous emotions surrounding relationships. This acknowledgment is followed by a reminder that no one is alone in these feelings. Lastly, before we begin to flow, the instructor says, "Thank yourself for taking the time to make it to your mat today." In my class Saturday the teacher said something like, "You did it, you're here, thank yourself for making that happen. It wasn't easy to make it to your mat today."
I've probably heard these words in a yoga class hundreds of times, but this time they stood out. I was like, "Hell yeah. I did it. I got up early. I'm doing something that makes me feel good." And this simple recognition of a tiny little accomplishment felt so important.
For a while now I've been trying pull a grand reflection out my month-long experience in China. I haven't found one of those yet, but I made a little connection while on my mat. In China I was surprised by every success or smooth interaction. I exclaimed "we did it!" when we took the right bus to the right glaze store, when we loaded a kiln, and when we found a cafe with real coffee. Walking to studio each morning felt like an grand accomplishment, and making art filled me with laughter. Every task was worth celebrating because everything was new and unknown and surrounded by the challenges of translation. Unfamiliarity made small accomplishments feel huge.
I realized that we don't give ourselves enough credit. I certainly don't give myself enough credit. We put giant expectations on ourselves to be happy, healthy, contributing members of society with bustling social lives. It takes a mountain of tiny efforts to make any aspect of this aspirational human possible, and rarely do we pause to say, "hey! we did it!" We beat ourselves up for sleeping in, for slowing down, and for being unsure. But in reality, life is confusing and people are insane, and the world we live in every day is probably as challenging and foreign as any grand adventure. Small accomplishments lead to big important things. I'm going to try to stop being so hard on myself. I'm going to start thanking myself and celebrating my little wins.
P.S. When I say "we" in this I'm probably talking about me, but it might apply to you too ! ? : )