This simple word, 'why', holds so much meaning to me right now. 'Why' means purpose, action with intention, not mindless and mundane. 'Why' is reason, not reason that has to be validated to anyone else, but reason strong enough from within that there is no need to be validated from the outside - you know, like if you know for sure in your heart that the earth is round, you aren't going to waste time and energy arguing with a flat earther (just an example - flat earthers, do your thing). 'WHY' is WheelHouse Yoga, the catalyst to so much freedom over the last 5 years, for me, for countless yoga practitioners - and in recent weeks freedom from the debilitating period of indecision, that after digging into a bigger and more stable ‘why’, finally shifted into a decision.
We all have our strengths, and also our opportunities to grow. I am one of those you may call a great starter, but not always so skilled with the finishing and/or following through. In 2015 when my always makes me laugh and grow dear friend, Kelly, planted the seed of idea to open a yoga/pilates studio together, there wasn't much hesitation. As a matter of fact, it was like a boulder had been knocked loose from the edge of a mountain and got to rolling, couldn't be stopped! Thats the start; a little nudge, momentum, crushing a few obstacles along the way but clearing a beautiful path and picking some others up along the way.
The starting and the keep rolling part, it flowed...not without challenge at times, but we rolled and we had no plans to stop rolling. But the finish... How does one stop that momentum? Momentum that had gained so much goodness. Momentum that had grown a community. Momentum that had a trajectory of infinite potential. Well, in my experience, one doesn’t stop that train because they want to, one stops for reasons beyond their control. Cue, 2020.
You weren’t alone in your exuberant confidence in this decade. The “its gonna be the best year yet”, crystal clear cliche 2020 vision of what was in store after the stroke of midnight January 1st that you may have felt awaken inside you! That was some real stuff. Some stuff that unified us in hashtags, graphic tees and meaningful conversations. It was time for a change, time to have everything fall into place, time to see it all clearly. But that’s not what happened….at least not at first glance.
The world paused. Trajectory went from onward and upward to the hard pull of gravity back to ground zero. Schools closed. Loved ones were lost. Fears we didn't even know we had were erected. We quarantined. We felt all the things. People lost jobs. Businesses closed. We settled into rest for a little while. Then the unrest.
Just keep going (swimming) is a common mantra for challenging times. Never give up. Rise, grind, repeat. All of this is fine and dandy, and necessary to an extent. But why is there less love given to the ‘stop’? BECAUSE IT’S UNCOMFORTABLE. We don’t like to be uncomfortable. Sometimes the stop is a good thing; stop smoking, stop lying (to yourself and others), stop sabotaging, stop the negative self talk, the list is long for the destructive things we could stop… Think about it - the protests in the streets, not just the important ones that are occurring at this time, the ones that for years have been occurring because there is a call to cease something. No matter how peaceful, fierce efforts are almost always met with resistance by those who are uncomfortable with the shift. The stop is harder than the start. Why?
Making the decision to close the brick and mortar studio space that housed the WheelHouse Yoga community for 5 years came with much more fear, personal resistance, wavering, and turmoil than starting the business ever did. The finish is harder than the start. The more I contemplated this, the more it made sense. I ran a marathon - first few miles, awesome, exciting...miles 22-26.2, brutal, but then accomplished and healed. I got divorced - wedding day and first few years, awesome, exciting...the end, brutal, but then acceptance and healing. Isn't this the nature of most things? In my spiritual practice, this cyclical existence is known as samsara.
So how do we avoid these painful endings? Is it possible? I believe so if we focus on this; it’s not HOW we avoid these things...its WHY we start them to begin with. If our intention for why we started to begin with is strong enough, flexible enough, selfless enough, then nothing will ever actually halt completely, unless our purpose completely jumps track (permission for that to happen too, my friends).
Here is where it may get a little uncomfortable. If we do something primarily for, or even with a microdose of self fulfilling reasons (dig deep here with me), whether it be relationships, good deeds, business ventures, fitness feats ...of course if it doesn't go our way it will be painful. It may even feel like we are the victim of all that is wrong with the world. That this happened to us. Let's take a real hard look in the mirror for a sec. Are you with me? Guilty? Me too. (already working on a future blog post about just this paragraph)
So what if we shifted that narrative. What if our WHY became way bigger than our how. The how being all of those tasks, the grinding, to-do lists, deadlines, demands that we tend to get caught up in because they lead to an end product or result. Of course to fulfill the purpose of starting, those actions are necessary, but they aren’t THE thing. They aren’t why we do it. What if our WHY became so pure, unwavering and beyond ourselves that no matter what perceived losses, challenges, conflicts or obstacles arose along the way, the journey continues. Close a brick and mortar yoga studio - open an online studio; the WHY (purpose and WheelHouse Yoga) to build community, provide improved physical health and reach people with meaningful spiritual teachings stays intact even though the place and way of delivery has shifted. Its not perfect, its ever evolving...but isn't that the point? If we land on “perfect”, why would we ever have any motivation to improve upon what always has room for improvement? Before, we were boxed in by 4 walls and only accessible to those whose proximity to the studio and financial fortune allowed them to practice with us. Now, our reach is boundless. What I came to realize through the period of indecision, when the why is consistent the decision arrives...the how can shift all it wants. This ‘why’ has led to WHY Life, a more expansive platform to fulfill the greater purpose of empowering people to live with more meaning and consideration of all of their actions and interactions with themselves and others. Had I not been shaken loose from my comfort zone, from what was working really well, from the daily routine that had gotten into an easy flow like state, I might not have had the opportunity to peel back the layers of intention to see the true core of the purpose.
So if you find yourself here - crumbled career, doubting your parenting and/or new (or not yet) found homeschooling skills, struggling in relationships because maybe there actually is such a thing as too much of a good thing, paralyzed by the what ifs and should dos - maybe its time to step way back to see what's just outside the view of the narrow lens we have been looking through. Maybe the cliche 2020 mindset that told us it was time for a change, time to have everything fall into place, time to see it all clearly - maybe that IS what happened, or at the very least is happening. We are taking inventory of what matters most, keeping what feels purposeful and starting to let go of what doesn't serve that purpose. We are starting to live our WHY life; mindful, meaningful and surrounded by a community of people who encourage each other to do the same. My name is Alyson (Al, Aly), co-founder of WHY Life, and I’m so happy you are here on this journey with us.