When I was a boy, my brother and I would hunt for hermit crabs along the salty mangrove roots of Matheson Hammock Park, of Biscayne Bay. Somehow, a few of the hermit crabs would invariably end up in our pockets, where our mom would find them. We would convince her that if we kept them as pets, we would feed them peanut butter, give them water; take care of them for a few weeks and then release them unharmed back at the beach.
It always amazed us just how quickly they could change their shells! We collected empty shells along the seashore and sometimes we even decorated the empty shells. We would place them around the hermit crabs in their cage. We watched in anticipation, as we were never quite sure when or which shell the hermit crab would choose to climb into. Then in the blink of an eye, the crab would climb out of its old shell and jump into the new one. Sometimes the crab would switch back and forth several times before settling into a new home.
Society today seems to encourage us to live a lot like a hermit crab. Depending on our environment, we find ourselves changing shells to suit our protective need for armor. If not careful, someone will fall in love with that shell of ours, which we have so carefully crafted. Then what do we do? No one will truly love us, they will love the illusory disguise that we have created instead. How long can we wear a trivial costume anyway?
Your picture-perfect appearance, your resilient role, your faultless words, your carefully fashioned personality. In time the shell you originally adorned to protect you, to win love, gain fame and influence, ends up suffocating you, as you struggle to keep it all together under the weight.
Yoga gives us a perfect non-judgmental place to explore and be curious about our genuine character. On our mat we reconnect to our soul, see our self clearly, away from the clutter and chaos of our daily lives. While we might be able to lie to the outside world for a time, we can never truly lie to ourselves.
If you have left your practice for a while, and are experiencing too much stress in this hectic world. I personally invite you to come back. Become like a curious child, an explorer once again. In time you will notice bad habits falling away, stress will be managed with ease, and your relationships with loved ones will be strengthen. Along the introspective journey of self-discovery, you will encounter better physical health, mental clarity and well-being.