Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wake up call

Wake up calls demand our attention. We can be so absorbed in our emotions and habits that in a way we are in a kind of sleep. Wake up calls abruptly make us stop what we are doing and at least temporarily take a look at something that we have been ignoring.

For example someone who has smoked for many years may get pneumonia and the doctor tells them if they do not quit they could die. This kind of wake up call gives many people the incentive to quit smoking. The impact of the consequences is so devastating that they take action.

Runners may run for years without stretching or without good technique. Over time they get stiffer and stiffer, developing chronic pain. The pain is not bad enough to make them quit running or really question if there is something they need to change. Then one day they tear a hamstring that forces them to stop running. This is the body's way of getting their attention.

There is no guarantee that a wake up call will bring permanent change. Old habits and patterns have a strong hold on us. Sometimes we can make an instant change because we know intrinsically that this wake up call is in our best interest and helps us to make a change we have wanted to make but just did not want it enough to do the work required to make the change.

Death is the biggest wake up call we can experience. If we lose someone suddenly who we deeply love, we realize we cannot take life for granted or the beings in our life for granted. Some people have been pronounced clinically dead but come back to life. This near death experience has a profound effect on how they view life and death.

Sometimes people start practicing yoga because of a wake up call. They might be so stiff or stressed that they decide to give yoga a try. Yoga begins the gradual process of opening up tight muscles and relaxing the body and mind. The more consistent we can be with our yoga practice, the more benefits we will see. Yoga can give us gentle wake up calls. We may discover how tight we really are in our shoulders or hips. We may realize how difficult it is to focus or how impatient we may be with ourselves when we find a pose difficult to do.

Wake up calls are immediate but the changes we need to make often take time. It may take a series of wake up calls to help us stick with our new habits and not revert back to the old ones. A big part of making the changes can be to consistently renew our intention. Wake up calls may not always be pleasant, but there is always something to learn from them. If we can slow down or stop long enough to view our situation with a fresh perspective, we can shift our lives in positive ways.

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