April 19, 2011 § 4 Comments
-Because I’m not who I thought I was
-Because I am who I am, my dreams are still my dreams
-Because although I can’t quite explain how this works, I am more content and at peace than ever in my life (of course I still have rough days.)
-Because I am capable of so much more than I thought when I release my expectations.
Approximately one year ago, I began hitting my yoga mat each day – after a decade of occasional, sometimes and semi-consistent practice. I re-committed intending to give myself good tools to carry with me where-ever I go from here. I knew there would be some emotional work ahead of me, but I have to admit now that this practice and this process quickly went far deeper than I anticipated – or was ready for.
I thought I knew exactly what I was doing and what I hoped to gain. The Truth is, I had no idea. I have been strung up by my heels by this practice. Now, I can confess that the first 6 months were a bit of hell as every thing I’d worked so hard to shut down in the last decade came up to haunt me, and along with them, every single one of my failures, shortcomings and fears. I’m not entirely sure how I stuck with it (I don’t think I can take all the credit either – it seemed to have it’s own momentum. I know that might not make much sense.) There were days (many, many, many days) where I asked myself what the hell was I doing. And somehow the next morning, I would find myself back at it. This is hard and strange for me to write about because it sounds like a bit of a breakdown – not something a younger version of myself would have allowed – but maybe in a small way, it was…
I think the reasoning goes something like this. Once I know something, I can’t un-know it, I can only decide what I do with that knowledge. It makes me responsible. Once I tipped over that bucket and the contents started spilling out all over the floor, I couldn’t exactly just leave the dirty water and pretend like it hadn’t happened. I do think, in hindsight, that this is what always stalled my practice in the past. Something difficult came up, an emotional trigger was inadvertently hit in class or at home – I wasn’t ready, I squashed it and 5 months later woke up realizing that I felt like shit & hadn’t practiced in ages. This time around adding a writing practice took me deep into the heart of this discomfort pretty quickly, almost before I’d realized where I was headed. All of a sudden I was in way over my head. Oh shit. Here we go. Journal pages started filling up quickly with cramped, illegible scrawl, and I was a ball of emotions. Once I realized how much stuff had piled up that I had either not dealt with effectively or at all, I had a choice.
It’s a little embarrassing, you know? I always think everyone else has this figured out, but the more people I talk with, the more I think that’s not necessarily the case. We are good at avoiding discomfort. We are trained in this from an early age and we apply this tool to many things in our life, including our emotions. I got pretty damn good at it. I would be stuck on something for ages, because I would try to shrug it off (“Everything’s fine” Liar. “I have it so good, who am I to be so upset” True… But grief, anger, these things still naturally happen and still must be processed, no matter how lucky we are.) I couldn’t deal with the real issue – which was always more internal than external, and much more base than whatever was going on at the surface. The emotion I avoided was a symptom. The real deal with almost every one of these issues has been my underlying feelings of inadequacy, fear, my internal belief that I was not and would never be good enough. I didn’t even consciously know that I thought that about myself until I started digging around.
Ok, so why if this has all been so hard, WHY would anyone want to do this? Why have I spent so much time on it? (Why will I continue?) I sometimes have difficulty when people ask me how my practice has been or how I have liked my teacher training… People seem to give such happy positive reports of these things. Maybe I am just intense. I’ll take my intensity though, because I know it’s bringing me where I need to go. I would do it all again. I didn’t feel like I was suffering before. Life was “good”. But even though I know now that this is lifelong work, the attempt to be aware and mindful in each moment, the work of befriending myself – even though I’m sure there’s still more ugly stuff still to dig up – When I look back and compare – I feel so much more… Stable. Sane. More Myself. More Capable. More Hope for myself and the world. Even though I didn’t handle everything perfectly today, it doesn’t make me weak, a bad person or a lousy friend. It makes me HUMAN. And I’m somehow slowly learning to love that – the being human thing. It’s certainly more interesting than PERFECT, no?
I am also celebrating this because I believed that I wasn’t capable of real dedication or consistency (I have only to look at T and our 18 years to know that isn’t true). And because even though I know it isn’t true, it still scares me. Because as my teacher training winds down, I am hitting a bit of wall. I am writing to remind myself of why, and how (Be KIND. Take a rest when you need to. Write, and give yourself (myself) time. Consistency isn’t about perfection). I’ll try to sneak a couple quick posts in, but I may be a bit scarce for the next few weeks as I finish up my student teaching requirements and study for the exam. In the meantime, thanks for reading and take good care, I’ll see you soon!