We are constantly changing. Physically, mentally and spiritually, we continually transform. Change can be something that happens to us or we can guide change by making intentional choices in our life.
A new year, a new moon or a new journey can be a symbolic opportunity to start fresh, examining where we want to go and how we want to get there. For insight and inspiration into cultivating change we asked Insiya Rasiwala-Finn—long time yoga teacher, ayurveda educator, surfer and mother—how she has experienced change in her life. This is what she had to say.
Q: Has there ever been a time in your life where you have felt a significant transformation occur? Can you tell us a little about that time?
A: Yes. This was one of the first pivotal moments in my life when things did shift for me. I was fifteen, a teenager, growing up in Bombay, India. I had just given my final exams for the 10th grade and school was out for the summer. I had planned a special trip to Nepal, to hike up to the Everest Base Camp with a girlfriend and a hiking group we were a part of. It was a 3 week long trip and I learned two things about myself, one that I was resilient. I carried my pack on my back the whole time and felt the utter freedom of being able to carry all that I needed to support my daily needs on my back. It was so liberating. The other was how insignificant I was, we all are. In the night I would stare at the stars so close to us. It was dazzling. The mountain peaks were so high, the cliffs so treacherous and at times we trekked on paths so narrow that the only safe thing to do was to watch that your feet stepped on the right spot so you wouldn’t fall. When I returned to Bombay after, I learned that one of my classmates had died in a car accident while on holiday with his family. He had been bright, funny and loved. It was so difficult to see his name on the class list that listed our final grades from the national board exam. We cried... but, it ignited in me a desire to really live my life fully from that day on, no matter what. It was a big lesson. Life is happening right now. You have to seize it.
Q: What do you know you need to continuously work on?
A: I tend toward anxiety, so I always have to work on allaying that. The anxiety stems from a fear of failing and not doing something according to my perfectionist expectations. I am also quick to judge and be critical of others, of situations and of myself; and while those patterns exist, I can tell that years of yoga and meditation and embodiment work do help me to calm, alleviate and move those negative thought patterns. And sometimes, simple awareness helps to create a shift in a more useful, positive direction.
Q: What helps you meditate?
A: Two things. One: creating a sacred space to meditate in. Two: consistency. Lighting a candle is sometimes all you need to create space. You don’t need an altar, though it is nice to have one in your home where you meditate. I love lighting a candle, because you are honouring light and a candle can be a reminder of your own inner light. Consistency is key because meditation does not happen unless we make it a habit and a habit can only become part of your flow if it works for you. I’ve gone through periods where early mornings have worked best for me and other times when right before I sleep was ideal.
Q: What do you love about meditation?
A: The deep sense of nourishment that stays with me throughout the day. It is hard to describe, but when I’ve had even a few days of consistent practice, life is more easeful, things don’t bother me as much, I’m less apt to be critical, I pause more, especially before reacting to any situation and somehow feel less rushed. My theory is that I feel this way because I am more clear and less scattered.
Q: In this world, we can be hard on ourselves. How do you decide whether you need to make a change in your life or work towards acceptance?
A: I think those two points are related. Even when I am trying to make a shift, I have to accept where I am starting from as well as the understanding that I may fall and fail a few times or many times on my journey toward change. And every single time, I need to look at those missteps as a chance to be more compassionate, more loving and more accepting toward myself. Yes, change is powerful, but it can only be achieved truly in a loving, sustainable way.
Q: What does self care look like in your day-to-day?
A: My daily Abhyanga or warm oil massage has become essential to my morning routine. It takes me about 8 minutes or less. I use warm sesame oil and apply it all over my body from the extremities toward the heart. I wear old pajamas right after and get on with morning chores, breakfast, getting my son ready for school etc.; and rinse off the oil in a warm shower before leaving the house. The warm oil calms my nervous system and is a good vitamin E infusion for my body. I also apply essential oils to my pulse points after showering every day. Rose and Sandalwood are favourites in the summer, but right now I use eucalyptus, lavender, cedar and clary sage.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to help others make change in their life, what would it be?
A: Be consistent and even more determined especially when you want to give up, but do it in a way that honours your body, mind and your health.
Writer, global yoga teacher, mama and Ayurvedic educator, Insiya is a wellspring of wisdom on living with more presence, grace, simplicity and bliss. To share in the honest and quirky insights of her journey on this worldly yet spiritual yoga life find Insiya online at www.yogue.ca, Facebook and Instagram.