Vashistasana. This Sanskrit word is used to describe a yoga pose that requires arm strength, core strength, and more than a dab of determination. Each time I do it I find myself counting silently to twenty seconds, hoping the instructor will get us to the next pose before I hit thirty. And each time I silently repeat the words she’s said so often during class: “You’re stronger than you think.”
She is always right.
I found myself reciting these words beyond my yoga practice recently. This time of year requires so much of us, both physically and emotionally. It threatens to exhaust us with task lists, time commitments, and obligations galore. It compounds our already-busy lives with added layers of physical demands and emotional upheaval.
Society’s dioramas feature lights and glitter and gifts wrapped in green satin bows. Our mailboxes burst with catalogs picturing holiday perfection. Our television loops Budweiser commercials that make us cry. We are saturated with the expectations heaped upon us by the month itself, unlike any other month in the year.
For many, the cacophony of celebration is euphoric. For others, it brings crushing memories. It is the first December since the divorce, or since a loved one died, or since an illness has consumed us and changed our lives forever. We relive holidays past, ones in which we were disappointed as a child, or hurt as a grown-up, or in which we saw ourselves as happier and more carefree. Some consider whether this December will be the last on earth, or where we will be this time next year. At times, the inner turmoil seems overwhelming.
But we are stronger than we think.
We face so much in life that challenges us every day, not just during the holidays. Sometimes what we face seems too difficult, impossible to handle. And yet we do. Somehow we manage to pull ourselves up and dust ourselves off and just get on with living. We do it because it is the life force within us that lets us face the impossible and survive.
We are strong when we cry. We are strong when we grieve. And we are strong when we celebrate a new day by breathing in the fresh morning breeze and snuggling into the wooly scarf around our neck. When we allow ourselves to be in this moment, and no other. We are strong when we bring ourselves home to our own soul.
We are always strong.
We are stronger than we think.