This post was written and originally published by Michael Taylor on his Facebook page, on January 17, 2016.
There are two ways to get pretty much anywhere you want to go. One is, someone takes you there. Another is, you get there yourself.
We tend to wish for one, while our experience tells us the other is best. We wish that someone else would just tell us what to do, and get us there. But all our experience shows us that we get where we're going best when we find our own way.
Visit the self-help section in a bookstore, a yoga class, or your favorite guru, and you'll likely get a whole lot of the first. Follow these exact steps, shapes, rules, and you win! Except you don't. Gurus might win a following in this way - there is always more to study, more rules to impart - but it doesn't actually help, for a simple reason: Your life is your life.
You are yours to create. The best way for you, to do everything there is, is the way you discover for yourself. A copy can never be so good as the original. So you get to begin each day on this amazing journey, of becoming your own original.
It's empowering, really, although not everyone likes this at first. "I want techniques! Just tell me what to do and I'll do it!" You can occupy people's minds, keep them busy, this way. But it doesn't work.
It's not that we don't need each other. We need each other a whole lot. But what we need isn't so much techniques or answers. It's support. We need support from each other in a way of being. One that is uniquely our own.
How do we get there? And even more, how do we get there when we're not used to feeling, or following how we feel?
1) Slow down.
Move slow enough that if you run into something good, you have a chance to notice it.
If you're flexed, stressed, and braced for impact - expecting that something won't feel good and you'll probably get hurt - you won't have a chance to feel much more than stress. You'll also work very hard to do simple things, which will make the bigger things unreachable.
3) Breathe deep.
Use your breath to get into your body, to feel, and to move you. This is the beginning of noticing what you are, and using less effort to work with everything you've got.
Forget the goals for a moment. What does it feel like to be right where you are? What about a little to the left or right, up or down? Get to know yourself this way - moving easily, everything you've got, in every direction you can move it - and you'll find that challenges aren't hard any more. You know what you have, and you know how to use it, easily. Which is a nice way to be. This works well for yoga. More importantly, it works well for everything else.
These steps will connect you to you, and get you moving more easily in your body and your life.
But, there's something that needs to happen first, even before all of these good things. Belief.
You need to believe that ease is better than struggle. You need to believe it's better to soften and explore around obstacles, than it is to apply force against resistance. Believe that 'no pain no gain' is a limiting myth that causes stress, injury, and average ability. Believe that everything extraordinary comes not from enduring discomfort until you break through to some imagined better place, but by self-creating the better place from exactly where you are, through exactly how you are.
So for most of us, most of the time, what we need isn't a technique. What we need is support from each other in a way of being. It isn't our bodies that need changing. We need this support in changing our minds.
Mike is a co-founder and resident healer at Strala Yoga. Named "Best Mover" by MindBodyGreen, he's practiced Eastern movement and healing techniques for more than three decades, including tai chi, qigong, and shiatsu. In his younger years, Mike challenged centuries of martial traditions in hundreds of competitions, by applying unruly imagination to a world where rules were unbreakable.
As he got older, he happily become more interested in supporting bodies than disrupting them, and studied mind-body medicine at Harvard, and alternative medicine and psychology at Oxford.
As Strala has grown, Mike has found his way back to health care done right: helping people let go of stress in their bodies and minds, and become their own best caregivers. Mike is a mountaineer, runner, cyclist, skier, and snowboarder
My first encounter with Mike was when I emailed him from Europe one January night in 2014 and told him I really wanted to come to New York to spend my days at the yoga studio on broadway that him and Tara Stiles founded. Prior to my impulsive outreach I had been casually following Mike and Tara's fresh approach to yoga and life for a while and I wanted to find my own way, within the space they created. The rest is already history. That dream became a cold hard reality and I did spend almost all my days at Strala in Soho throughout my entire time living in New York and it transformed me in a way I I can't adequately describe. Today both Tara and Mike are my friends and they continue to inspire me and teach me tools to living and moving easily.
I hope you'll benefit from their authentic and generous sharings on youtube, Instagram and Facebook the way I have. Mike often writes lengthy updates :) like this one in this post, and I think he's a brilliant, thought-provoking, authentic writer (and human). Maybe you'll agree.