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Adapt, Migrate, or Become Extinct

Composed in the spring of 2020.

Yesterday, I moved my mat.I was all set to practice in my yoga room with a Zoom video from one of my favorite teachers at Yoga International. I had my mat rolled out, and with two minutes to go, I realized I had no enthusiasm to practice one more time in my usual spot. What I really wanted at that moment was to be outside. My first thought was to ditch the yoga practice. It was 4:00pm, the light was perfect, and I was drawn, in fact had a robust enthusiasm, to just be on my front porch. But, out of the seeming blue, I had a flash of insight. I could...move my mat.

I then caught myself thinking I didn't have enough time to move my mat outside to begin the Zoom class. Was I going to drag myself back into my usual practice space (with reluctance), skip the practice all together (with guilt), or try something new? I moved quickly to get re-set up outside, fueled by Something New. Something I had not dreamed of. I immediately felt a recharge in my energy and mind. A smiled brewed and blossomed, I found myself tickled pink at the prospect of practicing in this brand new realm. I was delighted throughout the whole practice, and embraced what felt like a vast, brilliant, intelligent new outlook.

What had I done? I'd moved my mat, but on the big scale, I had made a fresh choice. In moving beyond the same old, same old. I remembered a book that a friend recommended to me years ago when I was going through a break up. Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life, by Dr. Spencer Johnson. In it, a couple of fellows named Hem and Haw are in a maze (along with a couple of cheese loving mice), where they have routinely found their beloved cheese in the same space, day after day. Until the day the cheese was depleted, gone, the former resource no longer there. Hem rants, despairs, and keeps repeating, "Who moved my cheese?" while remaining in the same, empty space. It dawns on Haw to maybe...venture out into the unknown in search of new cheese. Hem resists, and continues to complain, Who moved my cheese, reluctant to try something new.

In moving my mat, I stepped out of the depleted known, and discovered a charming new resource. I've been practicing yoga for decades, but never in this location on my front porch. Here are a couple of quotes from the book that inspired my own willingness to make a change:

Enjoy change. Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese.

Smell the cheese often so you know when it's getting old.

Adapt to change quickly. The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy the new cheese.

As I prepared to write this article, I remembered another bit of advice that another friend shared with me when I was going through another tough space. It relates to adapting to change quickly, and is (I believe) inspired by Darwin. When feeling stuck, or even uninspired, pause for a moment of self-inquiry. (After meditation is ideal.) Right now, what is the best choice--Adapt, Migrate, or Become Extinct? In my example, I migrated my mat. In the 2020 days of extended shelter-in-place, and fixed location, I needed a new perspective, so I migrated. In that moment when I almost bailed from the class, I was feeling a bit like I was growing extinct. But that simple action, moving my mat, expanded me. I felt free. It was a simple act that was a grand infusion of new life force, prana, mine for the taking.

Like many, I am finding refuge in my daily walks with my dog. But. Daily. In the same neighborhood, over and over. A few days ago, I tried a very literal new perspective to expand my event horizon in my walks. I've been driving to a different neighborhood, parking my car, and walking, enlivened by moving my own cheese. It has been like traveling in this time of confinement and restriction, traveling to a brand new place in my own town. It's like falling in love all over again, and finding new resources when the familiar felt dull and uninspired. I thrive on newness. It expands me, my horizons, and what I have to offer as a teacher and guide.

"Things constantly change, so we must adapt." That change happens is ferociously real during this pandemic. What can you change in your routine that will allow your light to shine? The change you make can be both simple, and profound. Yours for the taking. Let me know if you can relate, or have stories of your own during this time of forced sameness. I'm here for you, in my online classes and in private coaching.

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