Comparison.

It comes in so many forms, and maybe the most dangerous is the one we hold it in our hands.

“Connection”

*swipe*

“Motivation”

*scroll*

Glowing in our faces. In the most intimate areas of our life, when we are by ourselves, it shines in our eager eyes.

This past weekend I realized something while scrolling social media, and I had to stop it.

I follow a lot of fitness people on social media, yoga mostly and a few others. I tell myself it’s for ideas…which it is at its core. I noticed a common thread and decided it doesn’t come into alignment with my beliefs.

Many fitness people post photos wearing little and sometimes no clothing.

Here’s my beef. I don’t workout to post photos in near to nothing as proof of the gym or the reason for it.

I’ll be transparent here. I go to the gym quite often. 5 days a week. I’m pretty dedicated to it. And here’s why…I enjoy it. I actually enjoy spinning, barre, yoga, weights, Tabata, TRX, running, climbing, hiking, cardio…yes all the cardio, and most everything inbetween. I don’t do any of those things for the soul purpose to lose weight or staying at my current weight. (I don’t even own a scale, for good reason.) Progress is NOT a number.

I like sweating at the gym. I like feeling accomplished, and honestly a little sore. Without the gym I suffer from insomnia about once a week or more, which is actually one of my biggest physical reasons for going. I have too much energy, and I can drive everyone insane. But it actually started because I found in college it was one of the only ways I could study well. One of the only ways I could be focused in on one thing. (For those who don’t know I’m most likely ADHD. And oh sweet sleep. That too.)

Now I realize that liking the gym might be the minority, but there are a lot of ways to do fitness. I encourage you to find one you enjoy, it helps a lot. I won’t lie, I enjoy seeing my own progress…measured in what I can do, maybe it’s more squats, more weight, or a difficult pose I’ve been working on for months. Sometimes it’s just by the fact that the next time I do it, I’m not sore after. Maybe it’s because I see a muscle I was told I had and never knew what it did. Maybe that means I can run a half marathon, or I can run after the sweetest little kiddos in my life, but not JUST how I look. Yes, looks can be a result of working out, but don’t cheapen your progress to just this.

Here’s my point. In a completely innocent desire to find new workouts and moves, I found that I compared something I love with everyone else’s highlight reel. I have been bombarded. I started to feel like what I did wasn’t enough. I must be a sad yogi if I never get my feet off the floor regularly. If this happens to you, I’m going to urge you to try something. One word.

Unfollow.

Delete.

Adios.

I most likely have undiagnosed ADHD. I have asthma. I have psoriasis, on my face nonetheless. I don’t have a killer six pack. I have high cholesterol. I have cellulite on my backs of my legs. My skin has a mind of its own sometimes, and it can make me self conscious. I still get breakouts from time to time even though I’m almost out of my 20’s. I still can want all the foods that are bad for me, and also like really weird things that are good for me, like beets and spaghetti squash. I don’t know why. The point is we all are a collection of things. I don’t know your battle. I don’t know what you are going through, or what you’ve been through. I’ll never claim to, but I have my own no one else lives out but me. I can’t just live like the social media feed. My life and fitness will look different than everyone else’s life and fitness. And that is ok. Social media sometimes can make me think there’s only one win here, but there are so many wins that people don’t mention. Like one extra push up, your first push up on your feet, or your first push up ever! A one mile run or one more mile. Keeping up with your kids or your grandkids without running out of breath, and most of the world will never post those on social media. Those wins might be more ground shaking than all the inversions in the world.

It gets comfortable. Like your favorite worn in, ripped up, faded jeans. Like the softest cotton tee shirt you sleep in. Don’t let yourself get to that level of comfort with your soul and social media. When we are by ourselves we are so much more likely to talk down on ourselves. When we aren’t actively aware we are more likely to buy into what we see with our innocent eyes. The full set of abs on a person, who may never have struggled with weight, or sickness, or skin conditions, or loss, or whatever it is in your heart that you’ve encountered. This isn’t proof that you’re failing, because you aren’t where they are. The moment I start telling myself I should start doing yoga everyday just because someone else is, is the moment I’m doing it for the wrong reasons. I’m not meant to do yoga just because someone else is. I’m meant to do yoga because it gives me more ability to be who my soul is designed to be, if it does.

I’m not saying you can’t look at social media or that everyone you follow isn’t motivating. I’m just calling out something I see. If it makes you feel less than. If it makes you feel crumby. It’s not life giving; it needs to go. We don’t get enough time to spend any of it wasted on feeling less than who we are.

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Heart Openers.

phone imageIn yoga class, we do a lot of postures we call heart openers. I have struggled at times in my life to take this stance with God and with people. So recently every time the instructor offers the option to do this in a pose I take it. I use it as a mental reminder and an invitation, because opening my heart is an action and a posture I choose with intention. Open my heart. No matter how much it hurts. No matter how uncomfortable it feels.

So if you don’t do yoga, for the purpose of keeping it simple, just imagine clasping your hands behind your back. When you pull your shoulders back and your shoulder blades closer together, it opens up your chest.

Some of the poses that yoga refers to as heart openers are what we call bind poses. For the non yogis, binds are usually some variation of trying to grab your hands behind your back, the easiest one I can think to describe is a deep squat, feet pointed out, and you place the right arm around the outside of the right leg, right under the knee, and then the left arm wraps back around the back of your body and tries to grab the other hand. I hear the word bind and in my mind it has a negative connotation. God however has used it to teach me something really quite beautiful and refreshing. In yoga, “Binding, when done correctly, allows the body to relax, deepen into a pose, and hold for a longer period of time.”

God nudged my heart while in this pose. Let’s talk about this.  (haha. Great timing. I feel uncomfortable and unfocused on anything but what I’m doing, but I say ok.)

He was helping me to realize when I “bind up my hands”, (my works, my dreams, my desires, my plans) and open my heart to God (His works, His dreams, His desires, His plans), it allows me to relax, to rest, to abide in faith. Binding my hands doesn’t mean that I’m trapped or imprisoned by God. It means that I’m free, because it’s not my job to control and work for everything. When I think about this, I think about my dad, a man was drowning and my dad went in to help him, but the man was flailing and flapping and almost drown my dad with him! Sometimes the best thing for us to do is to let God help us without trying to save ourselves. When I bind up my hands, I let God be God and take steps in faith.

Binding my hands allows me to go deeper with God because it opens my heart for intimacy. It allows me to open my heart to truly know him and to be known. Binding my hands and opening my heart allows me to have perseverance. It allows me to not just survive as life goes on around me, but to actually thrive. He empowers me to live a righteous and pure life, no matter how uncomfortable. And the more you do this the easier it becomes and you begin to take this posture in more than one area of your life.

This is painful at times. And sometimes we do this in faith and feel sore from it afterward. But connection is always worth it. I urge you to choose connection with God and the people around you today and every day.