on the mat is a state of mind
Just do it.
Action is what defines us, not good intentions, not the perfect situation, not the right person.
Action. Doing. Making things happen.
Over the last two weeks, my life has taken a serious turn involving my work. Sometimes I am totally overwhelmed, out of my element, scared shitless by the gravity of my cases. To this point I’ve been treating pretty simple concerns, and suddenly things have taken a much more serious tone. It’s as though I’d been working for Cosmo and then got dropped in Afghanistan. I worry that I am not enough, that I don’t know enough, that I am not capable of enough to take care of the people that are depending on me. Yoga has been my outlet as I sort through these insecurities and confront their various sources. I go to class to get out of my head, to find a way through the conflicting emotions. Every time I come out of a class with a breakthrough, another block rears it’s stubborn ugly head. But I go. I show up. I do it regardless of how I’m feeling, and I DO IT. Even if I’m faking.
Rolf Gates wtites:
The eight limb path is all about behavior. It’s about our actions, not our good intentions. If we want self-esteem, we must to estimable things. The emphasis is on the doing. Hafez, a fourteenth century Sufi poet, suggests that we act great all the time. He doesn’t suggest that we wait around until we feel good and then, with the necessary “feeling-good” momentum, begin acting great. He urges us to act great whether we feel good or not. And, short of that ideal, we ought to fake it until we make it.
So today, the halfway point in my 108 day mala, I did the hardest class I have ever done. It was physically demanding, more so because I was distracted, as well as emotionally trying. As I sat in the sunshine outside of the studio before class, I was chatting with Conni about how my week had gone since my breakthrough on tuesday night. I made a joke about still needing to ‘beat it out’ of myself (that being my anxiety), but other than that things were looking ok. She remarked on my choice of words, which I didn’t really notice at the time, but after about an hour and a half of yoga, her observation hit home.
Why did I say it like that? That I needed to ‘beat it out of myself,’ this feeling of insecurity? I mean, I usually talk about blowing off steam or burning off extra energy at the end of my day, but I rarely speak of yoga in such aggressive terms. As I went through the stretches at the end of a challenging two hour practice, I think I had finally let my guard down enough to see what had been happening to me in the face of so much stress. With things so heavy, I feel weak and insecure in my inability to control my surroundings. My resident 12 year old is scared, and I’ve been trying to crush her for being so. I just wrote about loving her and respecting her for everything she’s been through, and yet the terms I used to silence her were so harsh.
This is where the self acceptance of yoga comes into play. You meet yourself wherever you happen to be that day. With love. With kindness. No expectations.
It’s not about how long we stay in a pose, whether that pose is Warrior 3 or a certain pattern in our lives. It’s about how quickly we get back up, pull ourselves back together, start moving forward again. What’s thrown me off so much about all the changes in my life is not so much that I don’t like what I’m doing or where things are going, it’s that I thought I had Stress under control. When it showed up again, I was all ‘no, no, no, we don’t do stress. Go away.’ I wasn’t open to expanding my experience, taking it further, learning something new about myself. I realize that I’ve grown comfortable and a bit rigid in where I am right now, and I forgot that things keep moving, even when you like where they are.
I saw this ad during the Olympics and it has stayed with me. I watch it every couple of days when I need a push, and I find it relevant as I go through yet another transition where I feel like I take one step forward and two steps back.
The thing I love about this ad is that it brings together so many things that I’ve talked about today and over the course of my adventure with yoga. It’s not about where you came from, it’s where you are… right now. In this pose. In this life. It’s not about how you looked falling down, it’s about your resolve to pick yourself up. It’s not about how many days you miss, but your commitment to the days you show up. It’s not about looking to the past, it’s about respecting the course of your experience that has brought you to this place. It’s about moving forward. And, even when you don’t think you can, pretend. Keep faking it, and eventually you will.
Be kind to yourselves in all things.