The Practice of Exploring the New.


Image via Celestine Chua/ Flickr

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” ~ Dan Millman

The new! It can be exciting. It can be challenging. It can lift us out of our comfort zone. It can be all three at once.

The one thing it will always do is allow for change.

As we start this new year, full of hope and promises to ourselves, of all the ways we want to change, maybe the best thing we can to is open ourselves to the new every chance we get.

I remember the first time I realized how resistant I was to new things. I was visiting Chicago and decided to check out a yoga studio. As the time got closer for me to leave the hotel, all these reasons why I shouldn’t go popped up:

It’s too cold. (It was February.)

It’s too windy. (It’s Chicago.)

I can practice in the room.

I can practice in the fitness center.

Finally, I ignored all the voices, mapped my walking route on my phone and set off, yoga mat slung over my shoulder. Halfway there I actually had the thought: “Wait, I won’t know where to put my shoes once I get there.”

Seriously. As if that was a reason to turn around.

As if I couldn’t easily find out where to put my shoes once I got there.

That’s when I realized: I find new things very uncomfortable. They’re new, after all, so chances are good that I won’t know the answers to certain questions or exactly where to go or how to do it.

New is unknown.

Unknown is uncomfortable.

Known is very comfortable. Even when it’s boring. Even when it’s not nourishing. At least I know what to expect.

If I try something new I might make a mistake.

This year, if I want to change anything at all about my life, if I want to enrich it in any way, I have to be open to new things.

What is that one definition of crazy? Doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.

Yeah, no thanks.

This year I am making a concerted effort to do new things.

This morning, I took the smallest step by opening up the yoga studio in the opposite direction as I normally do. One very small, micro step. It felt a little odd since I wasn’t just going on auto-pilot.

But that one small step led to others. I invited my students to choose a different space on the floor to lay their mat. We tried a new breathing technique—Bee Breath. I had them face in the opposite direction for savasana.

These are all tiny, almost inconsequential things—except they aren’t. Each one made space for slowing down, for a new perspective.

And slowing down and looking at things from a fresh perspective allows space for change.

So think about your daily life. What are some small new things you can try?

Rearrange the furniture in a room of your house. That always bring fresh energy to the space.

Try a different route to or from work and say good-bye to driving on auto-pilot.

Stop at a different coffee shop.

Or bring your own coffee. 

Or try tea instead of the usual coffee.

Try walking through your town as if you are a tourist. What is different?

Get up earlier or go to bed earlier. Or later.

If you normally write at home, go to a cafe. Or home, if you normally write out.

If you are stuck creatively, purposely set out to make mistakes. Write the worst opening sentence. Create a cardboard character. Create a painting with so many colors that it all dulls into a muddy brown. 

Creating something is better than creating nothing.

Here’s my wish for you via the always amazing Neil Gaiman:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”


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