“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.”
― Albert Ellis
I woke up this morning at 6 instead of 5:30. I rushed to do a morning sit. I know- rushing to meditate? Doesn’t bode well. I sat on my block and silently began to chastise myself as soon as the bell rang.
I should’ve gotten up earlier.
I should’ve taken a shower first.
I should’ve turned on the washing machine.
Suddenly I remembered what one of my teachers said during my yoga for cancer training.
‘We need to stop ‘shoulding’ on ourselves.’
Peace crashed down. Things were as they were supposed to be, because if they were to be different I would have made different choices. I returned to my breathing. My steady in breath and out breath softened the tops of my shoulders. I began to unhook from tension and eased into the morning. I heard birds. Then a truck backing up. Then a passing bus. And always I came back to my breathing.
What started out as a tight morning resulted in the ability to reclaim the moment. And that’s what meditation is about. When I can recognize what is going on and investigate it I allow for a chance to let. it. go. Sometimes this is the yoga. It’s not about asana. In yoga we talk about Ahisma, practicing non-violence. This means being kind to others and the one’s own spirit.
No more shoulding on myself.
A few weeks ago I was pretty sure I had hurt my hamstrings. As I get older I find that I’m not as flexible as I use to be, yet I let my ego get the best of me and go deep when perhaps I shouldn’t. It’s tough because it’s not like I have serious pain or there’s an ‘oh shit’ moment that I can blame.
You know the OS moment. You’re in class feelin’ groovy, loosey goosey and juicy. Instead of recognizing these moments as a time to hold back because you are too open, I take it as a sign to go HAM. Bad idea. This is my modus operandi. The next day I’m a lil’ sore but never left feeling ‘injured. But a few weeks ago something happened.
I should back up.
The past three months have been intense and exciting. I’ve been in massage school full-time and planning how to combine massage and yoga. School and teaching at night has been a bear. On the love front I’ve made some choices about the things I really want and deserve. All of this has required processing old hurts that I have both caused and received. Unrelated (or so I thought) I began to notice a tightening in my hamstrings after class. Not gonna lie- on many days my ischial tuberosities (you may know them as butt knuckles) hurt like a mf, but never the hammies.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Before a 4pm class I let my teacher know that my I may have injured my hamstrings. But even as the words came out of my mouth I wasn’t so sure that was accurate. I was at Jivamukti taking Julie Kirkpatrick’s class (I think she’s a compassionate and brilliant teacher). The focus of the month is karma and reincarnation. Whether you believe or not isn’t as important as understanding that unless we heal the old wounds we can’t move forward and receive all that life has in store.
So here I am saying I may have a hamstring injury, but honestly, I’m not in pain per se. No shooting pain, no tearing, no searing, no ripping. Just a sense that things are tight and uncomfortable. Julie gave me a couple of really thoughtful suggestions and I decided to dive into class with an open heart. The more I moved, the more I started to think about my past. Fleeting memories and a flurry of feelings seemed to creep up the backside of my body. But my range of motion was unaffected. I had the same depth that I normally do.
Thant’s when it occurred to me. I’m not physically injured. I’m working through some psychic shit. Old wounds that need to be healed. Feelings of insecurity that I thought had been long processed (thanks therapy!!) were trying to get out. From a body wisdom perspective it’s said that we process old hurts through the back of the body. In class the more I moved and was present with what I was feeling I didn’t feel tight. It was amazing a little unnerving. While there are times when an injury is an injury a sense of self-awareness and ability to listen to the body is critical.
Yoga has taught me not to run. Yoga has taught me to trust myself even when I’m not sure what is real. What things am I grasping? What could happen if I let go? If I take a moment to pause and look deeper, I have the answers. And if I don’t have the answer I know what questions to ask.
I used to snicker at the Self-Improvement section when I first worked in the book world. Snobby, I know. But over the years I would find myself sneaking over there, browsing shelves and buying things pretending they were for ‘a friend’. When I had to do a lot of driving between stores I could listen to audiobooks fearlessly. Wayne Dyer’s the Power of Intention had a profound impact. I hadn’t yet made the decision to make some radical life changes- but a seed was planted. I also loved watching his special on PBS when fundraising was in full effect.
It took a few years after the seed was planted but I changed the way that I looked at things. Things changed.
Thank you Wayne Dyer. Enjoy the adventure.
Last night I spent the evening at Radical Wellness, my neighborhood wellness store that is drenched with warmth. The Essential Oils Club meets monthly and yesterday was the Pride Edition since Jersey City celebrates Pride tomorrow. Rashena is a wealth of knowledge and paired oils with the chakras. She talked a lot about grounding and self-love. I was honored to lead off the discussion with a guided meditation that centered around self-love, acceptance and intuition. Whether you are coming out to the world as LGBT or coming out as yourself, there’s a need to step into that with a sense of strength rather than fear. Transitions are scary. Not everyone will agree with you. Some will abandon you.
That’s the big pill to swallow. But you have to trust that your people are out there and it starts with a tribe of one.
So go ahead. Astound yourself. And let’s high-five on the other side.
Desire is the root of my suffering. I know this and yet- I want. I want.
So while I get frustrated when things don’t turn out the way I hoped, it’s an opportunity for me to be present. Spending too much time in the future means I’m not here in the now.
I will work on wanting less and paying attention more. That way I can let things be as they are.
2015 is my year of living mindfully. I am here. Now.