A Friday Yoga Mantra

My friday evening yoga instructor sat cross legged as walked us through some breathing exercises.

As per usual, Renée asked us all to think of a prayer or intention to keep in mind while we went through our yoga practice. I usually take this opportunity to zone out entirely, allowing myself to focus on nothing instead of the instructed something. It’s usually the only excuse I can ever find to not think about anything except my body, and it’s generally a breath of fresh air. This time, however, a bubble of solace floated up to the top of my head and popped into the phrase “There is only now.”

“The power of now” is such a common cliché in today’s self-help universe that it’s easy to dismiss it entirely. This moment, however, it made a lot of sense.

I had been wallowing, regretting, and generally freaking out about the fact that I have nothing in my portfolio that I can truly be proud of. This is a big deal when you’re a designer. I mean I quite literally ONLY have my portfolio to show for almost 5 years of post-graduate work. I felt totally and completely envious of my college-age self, who spent far more time obsessing over boys and drugs than actually getting real design work done that might count toward a future in the industry. How did I go from a total be-it-all in high school to wasting 4 years of otherwise fine education? Yeah, I got straight A’s… but only  because I was great at school, not necessarily great at design. I look back on my early attempts at graphic design and gag… I am not a natural. Sure, perhaps I took that time to harness my inner creativity and explore what it meant to be an artist… or perhaps I was just a space cadet discovering psychedelics for the first time.

So I brooded through the month of January, sitting at my sewing machine and teaching myself another hobby that is totally unrelated to my chosen career path. I thought about all the amazing design projects I could have finished and all the incredible, innovative companies I could have worked for. But the sewing was fun, meditative, and had driven me to focus on something real and tangible outside the computer screen… so I persisted.

Three outfits and four weeks later, I found myself at yoga, in downward-facing dog, contemplating the silliness of it all. I realized that “there is only now” means that there are no alternate past where I worked my ass off in college and created the portfolio of my dreams at age 24. There is no version of myself other than the one currently sweating my ass off at the 23rd street NYSC. Whatever I did or failed to do in my early twenties got me here, didn’t it? It somehow was enough to stay in New York, to pursue the man of my dreams, and to maintain a happy, healthy life.

My mantra means taking each day one step at a time and working toward my goals with enthusiasm and optimism. It means realizing the potential that every single hour brings to the table. It means forgiving myself for slacking off for a few years, and acknowledging the personal and social growth that my time in college afforded me.

This is it

I am only me

and there is only now.