“We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are.” —Henry David Thoreau
Do you feel stuck? Do you find that you’re always preparing for the worst? Where are you putting your attention? When we step back and examine our worldview it can lead us to question our belief systems and our perspective. Yoga often initiates this exploration: As we experience being in our body, being in the moment, and fully feeling our experiences, we open to the possibility of being comfortable in the uncomfortable. How do we integrate this practice into our daily lives?
In her R&R retreat workshop Life Is Perspective, Kripalu Yoga teacher and life coach Coby Kozlowski, explores the gift of perspective and how yoga can impact our experiences. Discussing tenets from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, specifically, yoga as “the cessation of the modifications of the mind,” Coby notes that we can approach our experiences as “the observer, the witness, and open to seeing the way we frame our own experience in the belief systems that we’ve codified in our perspective.”
We all have stories we tell ourselves: “I’m not good enough”; “She is better than me”; “He is smarter than me.” These stories define our experience and can affect the way we feel about ourselves. Coby teaches us, however, that we can reframe our perspective. Here are some questions she recommends we ask ourselves to alter our perspective:
- What are the beliefs that created your past?
- What are the beliefs that are helping you today?
- What do you need to accept or reject in order to be happy?
- Can you have compassion for yourself and start over?
When we make it a point to regularly ask ourselves these questions, we inevitably uncover the ideological imprints that inform our attitudes. We notice that we often get swept up in habitual patterns: We judge, we criticize, and we undermine ourselves with deeply rooted belief structures. Coby says that when we examine these beliefs through various spiritual practices, such as yoga, meditation, and mind/body awareness, we see that our thoughts may not fit with our true beliefs. Like an over-sized shirt, or a pair of pants that is too small, these thoughts might simply need to be tailored to suit our lives.
Fostering the ability to question our internal monologue—to challenge and ultimately change our beliefs—is empowering. Self-compassion allows us to choose beliefs that lift us up, instead of feeling undermined by negativity.
Coby emphasizes that experimenting with our perspective, by asking ourselves the above questions, and reframing our thoughts, removes the painful attachment in negative belief systems and opens the door to the possibility for true happiness.
What do you tell yourself that you could re-frame? Has yoga changed your perspective? Share the ways you’ve changed your attitude in a given moment!