Life is Perspective

Posted on September 22nd, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Words from the Wise, Yoga

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:

  1. What are the beliefs that created your past?
  2. What are the beliefs that are helping you today?
  3. What do you need to accept or reject in order to be happy?
  4. 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!

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About Kimberly Jordan Allen

Kimberly is a writer, editor, and content strategist with twelve years of experience. Her areas of expertise include lifestyle, health and wellness, environmental issues, and the mind-body-spirit connection. Kimberly crafts communication strategies that integrate traditional, web, and social content to ignite, engage, and mobilize. Her work has appeared in Berkshire Magazine, The Huffington Post, E/The Environmental Magazine, Rural Intelligence, Shape, Organic Consumers Association, and Beliefnet. Kimberly is one of the founding contributors of Eco Chick, a website for hip, environmentally conscious women. Eco Chick has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, Grist, Treehugger, Glamour, Self, and Elle.com. She is currently the Digital Content Editor at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. You can find her tweeting @kimjordanallen.
  • Chris

    “An Easy life is not a victorious life” Paramahansa Yogananda. Yoga is versatile and personal. Everyone has a yoga exercise regiment and a meditation practice that is unique and suited for them. I’ve been practicing yoga and mediation for years and have tried several but one in particular works best for me. I love going to the studio and feeling great afterward. I also feel great when wearing great yoga wear by Sandjune Active Wear. Check it out at Sandjune.com.

  • Vicky Cook

    Reframing my belief systems has been a practice I’ve come to love and embrace. I’ve learned over the years that today’s truth’s are tomorrow’s lies and that is how i continue to move towards happiness, by reframing negative thought patterns with positive ones. Asana is one of the best ways to begin as it does teach you in a tactile way how to be present and shifts energy physically and emotionally. I love the Thoreau quote your blog started with, that says it all. We are the creators of our lives when we take responsibility for the way we feel and respond to life. Great blog, thanks for the affirmation!

  • KripaluEditor

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read and respond, Vicky! Your comments are always insightful.
    We are grateful for your support of the blog!
    Best to you!
    -Kim from Kripalu