One of my favorite questions to ask myself is: “What would I pay to do?” I come alive when I share yoga with others, and when I talk about optimizing life and creativity with others! So I’m following my bliss. Starting UW-Stevens Point as a BFA in musical theater, I quickly gained a lead role as a freshman, being Berger, in Hair: the musical. After receiving this huge ego boost, I then got hit with a flurry of reality checks in class, not getting cast the following semester. I was producing crappy work that I knew was life-less … not filled with ME. I realized I couldn’t just wait around expecting my “muse” to come when I was “struck by inspiration.”
I was dumbfounded as to what I could do to be filled up again as an artist, and quickly fell into anxiety and depression that can commonly accompany being an artist. I quickly realized that I couldn’t find it through food or alcohol … all in fact, just distracted from my dharma, my work. I needed to inspire myself, rather than rely on outside sources for inspiration. After my sophomore year, I found Brian Johnson, and his work with Philosophersnotes and Entheos. His “notes” gave me do-able steps to implement into my life, realizing I create my reality, and life circumstances!
He gave me the guts to think: “Wait! You mean, my creativity and happiness are in my control? I can actively make myself a stronger and productive artist, while being ecstatic about my work and gut feelings? … and fall on my face … and get back up, confidently?” The answer was a resounding, “Hell yes!” Next question: “How could I systematically create the reality I wanted, by applying small things to my life, with hard work, discipline, and playfulness?”
Mastery of anything comes from showing up to do the art/work on the business/the yoga regiment with “Blissipline” (Bliss/Discipline), every morning, after waking. I immediately began letting these small changes happen, until they became habitual patterns of daily life! This included giving gratitude, meditation, running/cycling, eating amazing food that nourishes my body … and yoga … all before 10 a.m.!
After 16 years of baseball and weight lifting wreaked havoc on my knees and joints, I couldn’t even touch my shins at 21 years old. Yoga gave me back my body and kinesthetic awareness. I call it “getting in my body,” because I really feel in my skin, tapped into every feeling inch of my body, rather than just using my body as a vehicle for my head. Yoga could be a catalyst for creativity and incubating new ideas, and knowing that once I embody my highest self, the work can just flood forth through my mind to pen, clay, or machinery and body. One of the first things I did after beginning my “Blissiplines” was end a three-year relationship that wasn’t life giving or supporting my growth, or hers. I began to realize that I had a choice in literally every facet of my life, including the way I interpreted any situation in life. I created a small group of friends/loved ones, (including my highest self) that empowered me, and that I could do the same for.
I then added a second major of health promotion/wellness with an emphasis in wellness coaching, and attended the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts for a month-long 200-hour YTT immersion, a life-altering experience. Now, after creating a Yoga and Meditation Club on my campus, I’ll be heading to Vancouver, British Columbia, in May to begin an internship for My Yoga Online! Jai five!
Ready to Rock your Highest Self?
Matt Cooke is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point majoring in health promotion/wellness and musical theater.