"Shoot for the moon.
Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."
Why am I doing this? Why am I doing a "21-Day Letting Loose Challenge?"
Well, the first part of it is because it's been shown that it takes about 21 days to cultivate a new habit, and because so much of what we do stems from habitual behaviors, I'd like to create new neural pathways in my brain to explore ways of being that actually serve the woman I am now rather than supports the lies of the girl I was then.
We are not our behaviors. Our patterns and thoughts and feelings don't identify us, they're just means of information. I believe in the power of choice and that we can choose in this moment (just this moment) to think differently. A spiritual leader once said, "You're not responsible for your first thought, but you are responsible for your next one." This challenge is about choosing a better next thought.
And, the "Letting LOose" part (written accidentally and purposefully in that way to underscore the goal of this experiment, is because I take E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G so seriously! It's shocking how many times I catch myself being very hard on me. I'm lighthearted in nature, but I learned growing up that it was so important to get things right, so the playfulness — the lila in life — all but disappeared. I never got to be a kid, my childhood was replaced by mediating my parents' marriage and helping them raise my three younger siblings, so there's a bit of living I haven't yet explored. This challenge is about playing, being curious, and letting things organically flow. It's about letting loose to bring forth even greater creativity and simply embracing the joy of being alive.
So, Day One: Lying Down in the Dirt.
When I was little, we didn't get much time to be messy in any way. We were taught to be quiet, to be obedient, to be perfect. Any time we teetered outside the boundaries set forth by my parents, we were immediately reprimanded and sometimes, in very harsh ways. I never climbed trees, I hardly went anywhere barefoot, I didn't sing any ditties, and at all costs, I did my best to avoid making (or being) a mess.
I'm lucky that I get to live near the beach. Truly absolutely blessed. San Diego offers the most gorgeous sunsets I've ever seen and I've been around the world to witness them. Every time I see the ocean, it always takes my breath away. I walked along the cliffs overlooking the waves at sunset, and the funny thing about the coast here is that the moment the sun goes down, everyone at the shore leaves the premises. I get to enjoy whole stretches of beach where no one else is around! I've gotten used to being barefoot these days, as both a yoga teacher and someone who likes to sink my toes in the sand, but getting dirt all over myself and not caring? That hadn't happened... yet.
I decided at some point during my walk that this is my "Let Loose" challenge for the day. Today, I let myself get messy! I simply plopped down on a patch of dirt in my clothes and lay on my belly on the edge of a cliff as the sky drew a curtain and opened them up again for the stars to come out. I placed my chin on the backs of my criss-crossed forearms and bent my knees, letting my legs windshield wiper side-to-side. Bits of grass sheltered me, as the ocean played a symphony of waves before my gaze and open ears. The longer I lay there, the more I began to melt into the moment and feel connected to Mother Nature (my first experience of spirituality was through the awe of her majesty).
At one point, I rolled onto my back and stared up at the grey, blue, and black of the night. I let my head fall over to the right, then over to the left, knees bent, and made subtle dirt angels. Eventually, I flipped back over and breathed in deeply.
I didn't care about where I needed to be or what I needed to do. All I thought was that this moment was the best moment of my life. Simply because I chose for it to be.