Herma box

Look familiar?

I jumped ship on my yoga studio recently; the change happened so fast: one week I was doing what I normally do, taking classes that fit my schedule in a space that is so familiar it’s like a home away from home, and the next, not so much. It feels sort of like a break-up, not just one in which you knew from the start that you weren’t going to be together for real long, i.e., not all that much about your daily life has changed. More like losing a great friend, a best friend even, because, in the end, you both had to get honest about where things were headed, admit that the picture you have of your lives is, frankly, quite different. In the breakup, you lost someone that helped shape you during formative moments, someone who was your absolute and most beautiful support through great times as well as rough ones.

This may seem a bit dramatic, but, affiliations, commitment to things, people, places define our daily existence. Whereas I feel some loss in moving on, maybe even a slight twitch of separation anxiety, the positives are surely outweighing the negatives. And they are stacking up fast and tall.

One reason, among a host, for the branch out—I’ve been feeling pretty comfortable where I was. And the word comfort is very much a good one in my world. Stability means as much to me as I would imagine it means to most. Not so much, though, that I don’t recognize the need for freshness and new inspiration. I’ve heard stories of people who, when they feel like they are getting too comfortable in a place, or when life is becoming just a bit too predictable, in a relationship, a job, a town, they pick up and move. I couldn’t pretend to be this type of person if I tried: I am the sort who enjoys deeply solidified relationships—not that this is the antithesis of what a wanderer finds, I’d guess—but deeply grounded roots in place and people are important and, for me, this means staying put for a while. A certain amount of spontaneity keeps life interesting, of course, but knowing what lies ahead (because I’ve gently shaped the path) is one key to maintaining a healthy existence.

It’s easy to live in contentville, so used to what you know, dependent on a schedule, processes, routine, habits. You wake up at the same time every day, you stop at the same coffee shop a couple mornings before work or school or dropping the kids wherever, you do laundry, grocery shopping on the same day each week (do people do that, I don’t actually know?), maybe even clean the bathroom every Saturday. The evening routine looks similar each night and it contributes to the full seven-day agenda. It’s reassuring, recognizable, invites simplicity into our lives. We reside in a comfort zone because we need stability, but sometimes this area around us shrinks and we didn’t even recognize when or how or that it got so small. All of a sudden, we’re inside a box, and hopefully we navigate within it with ease, but what exists outside of it?

Many years ago, I TAd a biological science class at Penn State. The professor was just so brilliant, so innovative and inspiring, asked a lot of questions of his students, asked them to consider their place in the world, their footprint, their contribution to and role in the cycle of life. He brought up this point often: we exist in boxes most of our lives: we live in boxes, within four walls—our homes—we travel in boxes—our cars, elevators, airplanes—we work in boxes—office buildings, schools, banks, hospitals, factories, warehouses—we take care of chores in boxes, many of us exercise in boxes, we learn in boxes, we use boxes to communicate with one another and to seek entertainment…I think you get the idea. His point was to get us to expand our daily existence, to get outside (specifically in nature, as it was a Bi Sci class), to not get trapped inside these boxes, allowing them to be all that we ever know.

Because of this recent change (going to class at another studio, yes, it is still inside a box), my community has grown considerably in the last month. New instructors, new classmates, new stories and experiences, new styles of yoga to learn about and practice, ways of approaching the world presented with different perspective, new ideas and questions to ponder, all to be taken off the mat. It’s not as significant a shake-up as a job change or as relocating to another city or country, but a transition from one studio to another has allowed me to feel something different and enhance some deteriorating energy.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s a small, small change, but now I’ve become more familiar with hoods in Denver that might have taken me another couple years to explore—you just get so comfortable in your zone: you’ve got your locals-only coffee shop around the corner, your favorite restaurant with your favorite three dishes, your best weekend haunt a few blocks away that jams tunes that you love, your friends all live fairly close, at least within a couple-mile bike ride, mostly everything you could want daily is within walking distance of your pad, why go outside that twenty or thirty block radius, venturing into the unfamiliar, beyond that which you know so well?

We all, hopefully, if that’s what we’ve created, or have handed down to us, live in a space, in an area, in which we feel safe, strong, secure, confident. But what happens when all that goes away or isn’t enough anymore? Or all that we created turns out to be not exactly what we wanted or thought we wanted? Or maybe what we’ve created has become reliable to a fault, in that we stop growing, we stop learning, we pause too long. Do you safeguard yourself, build a perfectly secure space confined by limits, or do you occasionally blow down those four walls to ensure an experience of magical and new once and a while?

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