Groundhogs Day!

Posted on February 2, 2017 at 7:55 AM

By Diana Scharf


When Groundhog Day rolls around each year, I really have only one question on my mind: what time is the Bill Murray movie on? I suppose I also wonder when spring is coming and whether the groundhog will bite the mayor again, but these are really secondary.


Groundhog Day is an awesome movie and should be required viewing for anyone old enough to appreciate it. It tells the story of Phil Connors, played by the ever awesome Bill Murray. Phil is not a nice person. He does just about as little as he can in the world, and is unhappily settled in his mediocrity. His life changes when he goes to Puxatawney PA to cover the Groundhog Day festivities--or rather doesn't change. Phil becomes doomed to repeat February 2, living the same day over and over.


The obvious symbolism here is that Phil, like so many of us, is stuck in a rut. Just as we sometimes do in yoga, the movie explores how to get yourself unstuck.


After making a series of bad choices based on his existing personality, Phil decides to make a change: he decides to better himself. This is where his story starts to turn around.


In yoga, we begin our journey by looking inward. If we consider the seven chakras, or points of energy in the body, we realize that six of them solely concern what's happening in our own bodies. We can actually see Phil improve himself step by step as we watch him open each chakra:


1. He opens his root chakra as he accepts and becomes secure in the knowledge that he has infinite time. This is Phil's foundation in his new reality.


2. He taps into his creative energies by learning new skills such as piano playing and ice sculpting. This demonstrates the sacral chakra opening up.


3. He shows us his solar plexus chakra coming into balance as he begins to make better choices. No more "Thelma and Louise" moments with the groundhog for him! He is done robbing armored cars and bathing with toasters.


4. A balanced heart chakra allows a person to both give and receive love. At first this poses quite a challenge for our boy Phil. But once Phil begins to show kindness to others, he finally begins to earn the love of both the townspeople and his love interest, Rita.


5. He finds his voice by speaking to and engaging with the townspeople. He speaks the truth; he is no longer picking up women by pretending to know them from high school. By the end of the movie he talks to everyone as if they were old friends with an easy rapport. This demonstrates a balanced throat chakra.


6. The "third eye" chakra represents an inner wisdom. The introspective aspect is hard to pinpoint in the movie since it really translates into Phil growing into a better person overall. However, we do see him acquire wisdom as the movie progresses. He lets Rita teach him about the poetry she loves so much, and though we don't see it happen, they call him Dr. Connors by the end of the movie. So we know that this chakra comes into balance as well.


7. The first six chakras serve us inwardly. However, the seventh chakra looks outward: it connects us to something greater than ourselves. It is not just about the self, this is the energy that we put out into the world. We engage this chakra by becoming mindful of what's happening around us and performing acts of kindness. Where is there a need that we can fill?


Once Phil learns this lesson and brings his final chakra into balance, he finally breaks out of his rut. He realizes that the world is not just about him and his desires. He becomes a part of something greater--a community. He becomes mindful of other people's lives and other people's needs. He observes his environment and learns to really notice. He knows when a kid is going to fall from a tree, when a bunch of old ladies will need a tire change, and when someone will choke in a restaurant. And he makes sure that he is always there to help. All of these good deeds make him the most beloved man in Puxatawny, and teach him to be happy.


We learn from Phil that perspective means everything. He is always in the same place with the same people acting out the same situations. Yet he goes from being utterly miserable and unloved to being blissfully happy and beloved. Absolutely nothing has changed except for the way he now views the world.


Yoga teaches us to view the world in a positive way, with an open heart and an open mind. Yogis see every day as a fresh start, a new opportunity to pour our positive energy into the world. I like to believe that is exactly what the final scene of Groundhog Day shows us as Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell walk out into their snow-covered paradise.


So this Groundhog Day, I challenge you to become a better version of yourself. Be kinder, wiser, or more mindful. Learn to play piano. Try that kettle bell class at the gym. Just do something different. You might be surprised where your new journey takes you.


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