Taken in Lancaster, PA

My Life Changed Once I Stopped Expecting Others to Change Theirs

Judy Russ
Judy Russ
Dec 6, 2018 · 4 min read

I used to be a yogi. And I was every bit of a cliché as you could imagine.

I spent much of my time offering unwarranted life advice that I was unqualified to give. I felt holier-than-thou in my harem pants and crystal necklaces — my shaved head a loud and clear communication that I was, indeed, very committed to my spiritual path. Somehow.

I’m still not sure what I was thinking, there.

It could be that I’m just being hard on myself. Yoga was something that helped me find peace amidst a tumultuous early adulthood; and while I felt like an outsider almost everywhere else, yoga studios felt like home.

Being a “yogi” offered just enough counterculture for me to feel rebellious and special, but not enough to receive judgement. So there was refuge in the community — it wasn’t all self serving.

But with my new found yoga identity came much unanticipated self righteousness (there’s a whole book written about this, but we’ll get into that another time). And although I feigned a humble disposition, subconsciously, I felt like I knew a secret that everyone was missing out on.

Yoga was the right way of life. It had all of the answers.

And I? Well. I was the messenger.

“What’s Yoga?”

This is a question that most of the world outside of the states would ask, had you mentioned it. It was the most earth-shattering two words I could’ve heard during my first week backpacking in Morocco.

For the first month or two of my journey, I held on tightly to my yogi identity. But over time and with movement across this country, I was humbled into realizing the infinite possibility for belief, philosophy, and dogma in one place alone.

By the time I had returned to the states, I was all but erased of asanas and mandala doodles.

All of the aspects of my personality that were once dominated by yoga tropes had been replaced with experience and maturity — the end result of fucking up and figuring it out too many times to count.

Though… I’ve always been a fan of this photo of me. This can stay.

Compassion is Key

Why was it that I was so offended by the way people lived back when I was a young yogi that I felt the need to influence folks to live differently?

And what had changed, post-travel?

The answer is more simple than downward dog.

When I was a yogi, I thought I knew. And I felt that everyone else had the potential to also know, but were blatantly ignoring it. It made me resentful that people were choosing suffering every single day without seeking remedy.

But from travelling, I came to understand the endless circumstances, life paths, and situations that make people the way that they are. I met an array of amazing humans that were more spiritual than any yoga teacher I knew, without ever stepping foot in a studio.

I met people who had suffered through gut wrenching and undeserved oppression/abuse that would’ve made almost any terrible sin they could’ve committed excusable.

I had also done such a bang up job at making mistakes myself that I came to know just how difficult life is, when we chose a path of growth that isn't manufactured by a multi billion dollar industry.

Reminding myself that I don’t know shit about anyone or anything has become a crucial component to my own happiness.

It allows me to let go of the actions and behaviors of others, even when I don’t particularly like them.

All I have to do is consider the unimaginable adversity that the average person must endure (socially, politically, emotionally, or otherwise) as a basic academic requirement for taking up space on planet earth.

This makes asking another human to change for the sake of our own comfort/beliefs virtually impossible.

And it certainly doesn’t hurt that this helps me go a little bit easier on myself, as well.

My name is Judy, and I’m a poet, copy/ghost writer, and content curator specializing in Fitness, Travel, Outdoor Adventures and Personal Development.

I write full time in coffee shops all over Philadelphia, or at home with my pitbull mix Riley dropping tennis balls in my lap.

You can follow my newly (chaotically) launched writing career on my instagram (@amongst_mountains) — or read more fun content on my website, Amongst Mountains.org.

Judy Russ

Written by

Judy Russ

Part time writer, Part time cook. Making it up as I go along. (Food, Personal Growth, Adventure & Travel)

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