What is a commitment? According to the dictionary, the definition of commitment is a noun meaning, the act of committing or the state of being committed. Dedication. Synonyms for commitment are obligation, committal, engagement, and undertaking. When I think of commitment, I think of a bond between two different people. Family, marriage, friendships, our jobs, and religion to name a few, but what about a commitment to ourselves? We enter into commitments with others all the time. Some are broken and some are kept, but that does not stop us from committing to others. Where is the root to this failure? Why is it that we are unable to keep our commitments? Why is it that we will continually commit to others and fail to see that commitments should start in us? I would like to tell you about my first steps on the path of self-commitment.
We yogis often hear in studios about 30 day or 108 day challenges. I’ve never embarked upon this journey because the word challenge put me off somehow. The dictionary definition of challenge is a noun meaning, a call to take part in a contest or competition especially, a duel. Synonyms for challenge are dare, defiance, and provocation. What a difference in the feeling of the words, challenge and commitment. I face so many challenges in my everyday life, including time on the yoga mat, why would I want to add another challenge, especially to yoga? These challenges include working on forgiveness and humility in the outside world and finding openness and full breath on the yoga mat. One day I was thinking about commitments and how we enter into them lightly and break them often. I’ve had my share of participation in such activity. And it dawned on me, I make very few commitments to myself. Every year I break my commitment of New Year’s Resolutions. Actually, every year but one. In 2003 I made a resolution to stop fantasizing in my head. Not the kind you think, you sick puppy! The kind of fantasizing where I went in my head and fantasized about a different life, starting with my childhood. Talk about NOT being in the present moment! Well, this was a liberating commitment! Whew!! I cannot express to you this kind of liberation from my own mind!!! That has to be experienced. If you have experienced this, please come talk to me. I want to hear your story too! I cannot just sit with mine alone. I have a few of you around me. Let’s grow together! Oh, by the way, I made a New Years Resolution this year to trust and be free. If you came to Dragonfly’s New Year’s Day class, I whispered these words in your ear, “may you be trusting and be free”. I’ll let you know how this commitment goes.
I was inspired by Tara’s 30 day commitment in November 2012 and Jackie’s 108 day commitment in 2012. After reading Tara’s student blog, (scroll down to read) about her commitment to her yoga practice and hearing about Jackie’s commitment on Saturday mornings, I was deeply touched. It was at that point that I decided to make a commitment to myself to practice yoga for 108 days. Not a challenge, but a real commitment. I started on January 1st without any awareness of changes that were ahead for me. I assumed my asana practice would change but thankfully I am receiving much more from my self-commitment. As usual, yoga goes deep. I started to keep a journal but then stopped because writing is a challenge for me and I did not need to add an additional challenge at this time, especially with my new commitment. I have gravitated towards practicing at home and enjoy practicing alongside my friends at dragonfly a few times a week. There were days that I could barely squeeze my practice in but those were the days the practice was most precious to me. One night I woke up and realized I did not practice that day because I was not feeling well and feel asleep too early. So, I broke a small part of my commitment. I have missed one day thus far. A wise friend of mine named Liz, you may know her, said to me, “do you know why we do 108 times? So that hopefully we will only miss 8 and have done 100 in the end”. It took some time but I forgave myself. The resulting action was self-forgiveness for allowing the missed day. Wait a minute, forgive myself? That was the one piece of advice my dad, Luther, said to me over and over again regarding my divorce (uh…a broken commitment!) was to forgive myself. Myself?? What about my ex-husband? He’s the one that needs forgiveness haha!! Well yes, but forgive yourself first, that is where it begins. And you know what? He was right. Hey Luther! Fools don’t grow old, huh?
So what I am learning from self-commitment is how to stay in my current commitments. I’m learning how to forgive myself and let go of my mess-ups, how to be kind and understanding (allowing myself to not journal without self-judgment and self-criticism), and how to trust. The root of this transformation is that I am learning how to have a relationship with me, my little i with my big I. I am learning to have a relationship with All That Is, to God, in other words.
Perhaps now that I know how it feels to give and receive understanding, forgiveness, and trust, I can begin to give and receive these transformative actions to others that I commit to. I can stay committed because I have not left me, i.e. completely turned off my light. I am realizing that I can trust myself and that is where the real work begins. Within me, not others. I can trust me. Little-girl Michele can trust big-adult Michele. In this alone, I am finding freedom from fear. Ohhh, that is a whole other discussion. Fear.
I will be rethinking some commitments that I have broken. You know who you are. I will be coming around.
I will continually refresh those commitments that I already have. You know who you are, be ready!
I will mourn those commitments that are lost and practice forgiveness and trust for of all those involved, including me.
I also make a commitment to my fellow yogis at Dragonfly. I commit to provide a safe space for transformation, for healing, and for community. I commit to practice next to you, to read with you, to meditate with you, to listen to you, to be your friend. Join me….let’s walk this transformative path of self-commitment together, in trust and kindness.
Please don’t take my word for it! Go experience self-commitment for yourself! Remember, be kind to yourself!