Occupy Yourself

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 this year 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 B. 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.

My urging to us all: Occupy Yourself.

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Aruni Nan Futuronsky is a Kripalu Yoga teacher, life coach, and Legacy Faculty member for Kripalu R&R and Kripalu programs.

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