Embrace change to avoid being trapped in unhealthy habits
What is normal anyway?
My daughter, like a lot of children, and adults for that matter, likes a strong degree of consistency in her life. She likes to know what’s going on and she can be a little nervous about change. Because of this strange Covid situation, we’re in right now we’ve had a few conversations about when things might go back to ‘normal’.
This word ‘normal’ is everywhere at the moment, with some concerned about when regular life can resume, and others wondering if this is the ‘new normal’, and what that might mean. I think it’s natural to have these thoughts but I’m not sure that it’s particularly helpful for our state of mind to dwell on this too much.
I came across some lines in the book I was reading that helped me talk to my daughter, summing up beautifully what I wanted to say. In the words of Terry Pratchett:
‘What is normal anyway? Normal is yesterday, last week and last month taken together.’ - Terry Pratchett
I think this challenges the idea that normal exists at all. We don’t arrive at a point in our life and say ‘ok, that’s it, this is now my normal and I won’t change anything’. Normal is just a perception of the mind made up of thousands of moving parts. Your sleep schedule, your work patterns, the food you eat, your health, your leisure and even your beliefs- all of these can and do shift.
Sometimes the shifts are in small subtle increments, and sometimes the changes are big and unexpected, but change is constantly happening. Our mind works away quietly weaving our new circumstances into its existing definition of normal, constantly adapting, but sometimes our conscious mind is a little more resistant.
What is normal anyway?
For many of us we like the idea of normal, it’s safe, knowable and comforting, but if we get too attached to it then it can be tricky to allow for change. It can make us push our bodies too hard through injury, it can keep us trapped in unhealthy habits, and it can make us grieve even harder when things change beyond our control, making us long for something that perhaps never really existed.
I believe that our yoga practice, by connecting us to our bodies, can help us fully experience this sense of constant change. Our practice is never the same, from one day to the next, affected by numerous variables. Sometimes we achieve things that previously seemed impossible, other times we surrender to new limitations, but there’s always change, each day, week and month.
Perhaps we can learn to feel the comfort in change rather than normalcy. When our present ‘norm’ is challenging and uncomfortable, it’s only a matter of time until that too will change. Each day presents the possibility for normal to shift again.
‘What is normal anyway? Normal is yesterday, last week and last month taken together.’ It’s a movable feast, a set of interconnecting cogs that constantly click onwards. Your favorite pair of jeans, the way you take your coffee, your preferred balancing leg. They all change and it doesn’t matter, because they’re all surface details. The common factor is you. You pick the denim, your tastebuds alter, you have a stronger side.
These parts of you may be fluid, but there is always a ‘you’ at the centre. There is always that perfect, untouched seed at your core that defies definition by such simple external factors. Your essence is always there, always enduring, surviving these winds of change.
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