Occupy Yourself

Posted on March 8th, 2012 by in Life Lessons


I’m beside myself with worry.

I can see my mother standing at the kitchen sink in our childhood house, her hands immersed in soapsuds, proclaiming this. It was a phrase she used a lot when I was young. How confusing to my childhood brain! There she was, standing in front of me, clearly only one mother, not two. How could she be—beside herself?

I’ve been thinking about this phrase a lot these days, which, according to the Dictionary of Word Origins by Jordan Almond, was used “because the ancients believed that soul and body could part and that under great emotional stress the soul would actually leave the body. When this happened, a person was ‘beside himself’.'”

Living yoga off the mat seems to be the ultimate coming together of self—the unity, the yoking of body, mind, and spirit—the antithesis of being “beside one’s self.” My mother was speaking her 1950s understanding of how to cope with stress and with feelings. Hers is the model that I learned, the model that today brings me suffering. As 2012 unfolds, I am committed to practicing the ancient and ultimately relevant model of unity consciousness, a powerful and effective way to cope with life. As I come into awareness of what is, as I relax around it, transformation occurs.

When I notice my body feeling quirky and creaky—when I recognize that my thoughts are habitual and racing toward imagining the worst of me, of you, and of life—when I find fear nibbling at my spine—these are the moments to come into myself. To relax into the physical sensations, to soften around the crazy thoughts, to wrap myself up in a blanket of radical acceptance for this moment, just like on the yoga mat—to bring my awareness directly to those places of sensation as a blessing of presence—all open the door to change.

Using the phrase coined by my colleague, Annie Kay, I choose to occupy Aruni, to dive into myself, to notice, to embrace, to relax—and to realign my thinking, my perspective, toward the positive.

Occupy Aruni. This is my proclamation.

That is where I can end my struggle with the moment. That is where I can savor what is, and not obsess about what isn’t.

That is where transformation happens.

I urge you to try this, too: Occupy yourself.

© Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. All rights reserved. To request permission to reprint, please e-mail editor@kripalu.org.


About Aruni Nan Futuronsky, Life Coach, RYT

Aruni, Senior Life Coach and Program Advisor for the Kripalu Healthy Living programs, is a certified professional-level Kripalu Yoga teacher. She has been teaching in a variety of diverse venues for more than 35 years and has been on the Kripalu faculty for more than 20. Author of Recovering My Voice: A Memoir of Chaos, Spirituality, and Hope, and her latest book, Already Home: Stories of a Seeker, Aruni has also developed the Kripalu coaching methodology, based in presence and right action.

6 Responses to “Occupy Yourself”

  1. nettie glickman March 9, 2012 12:10 am #

    Ah the gifts of being Aruni and how you show up and share your soul’s voice with us continues. Blessings sweet sister!!

  2. KripaluEditor March 9, 2012 11:23 am #

    Thanks for reading and responding, Nettie!

  3. Bill March 13, 2012 11:09 am #

    “Occupy Aruni” – very clever

    Yup creakiness is one way the body reminds us that we’re alive.  Bless you, creakiness!


  4. Aruni Nan Futuronsky, Life Coach, RYT
    Aruni March 14, 2012 9:11 am #

    Hey, you guys….hey, everybody out there.  Aruni here.  Tell us how you practice.  How do you practice being with yourself, occupying the moment?  Let us hear!

    Spring/summer has landed in the Berks—strange and wonderful. 

    Enjoy your moment–it is all “local weather”, passing through.

  5. Dave Gerlits March 14, 2012 6:47 pm #

    When I need to Occupy Dave, especially during those stressful times at work, I look up at my wall. I posted a copy of the 5 steps of “The Practice of Being Present”:
    Breathe – attending to the breath
    Relax – soften around the tension
    Feel – attend to the sensations of the moment
    Watch – witness my thoughts and feelings
    Allow – relax into the thoughts and feelings, and watch them arise and pass away.

    It always works!

  6. Bill March 18, 2012 11:02 am #

    There’s an interesting trick Cia Ricco teaches.  Think of some aspect of yourself that you dislike, then practice saying “I love myself because of [the thing you dislike]”.

    I am getting too round in the middle.  So I work with that.  At first it sounds ridiculous: “I love myself because of my protruding belly”.  But before too long, I can feel the glimmer of heart warmth.  I believe that exercise is one of the most direct paths to true self acceptance !

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