Finding the calm…

I almost lost it during yoga.  How can that be…you might be curious.  First of all, if you have not been to yoga, do not be intimidated by what I am about to say.  To understand, I have to paint a picture I wasn’t going to share.  It sunk its claws in me, so let me pry them off.  Around 3 years ago, my body started another war.  I wrote about it in previous posts way back, but the gist was that every joint was on fire.  Every. Single. Joint.  My left shoulder started to freeze up and caused me tremendous pain.  I wasn’t sure I could finish out the school year as it locked up and was causing pain beyond words.  I could no longer do “Brain Gym” moves for my class.  Those moves not only centered my students, they helped me as well.  I would play classical music, the kind most of my students had not heard, and we would breathe deeply to get centered.  We would do cross body exercises to warm up our minds as well as get the “wiggles” out.  I loved every moment of it.

It has been a difficult transition coming back from that point.  So today, as the yoga instructor led us through hot yoga, I felt the steam seep into my joints to hopefully aid in my practice.  I listened to her as she said to find our focal point.  I was flustered at first when I saw a man come in and almost take the exact spot behind me as I knew I would not focus.  I had, unfortunately, worn a shirt I never wear to yoga and it was loose…thus riding up if you know what I mean.  At the last moment, he moved his mat.  Saved from embarrassment I thought.  We began the series and since I am somewhat of a regular, I knew this girl might remember me telling her I couldn’t move deeper into some poses.  If you are brand-new, she sometimes walks by and assists you in the correct posture.

Since I had missed two weeks, I listened as she started this practice differently.  I tried not to look at anyone else in the room except for me.  Later, she began one of the poses that has caused me some pain, so I broke the silence by asking if there was an alternative (I just stood in mountain pose).  The problem started then I think.  The doubts began to creep in about why am I there if I can’t do all the poses.  Then I squashed it by saying this is for me.  I like doing this.  Some things are easier than others.  Stop pestering me, self-doubt.  I tried hard to focus again on the poses and what I am capable of doing…not what others are doing.  Unfortunately, I caught a glimpse of “underwear man” again.  He looks kind of like this Bikram man.  Except for the fact that he is much older than I am.

I will not lie…I have speculated that it might be humorous during toe stand if he errrm, fell over.  What?  I’m just being honest.  So I fought hard with my inner demons, and thought I had them all tied up in a nice little bow, until the end of class.  She turned the lights down low, and was speaking about your inner thoughts.  About what brings you to the mat.  About letting go of the worries and the chaos of the world.  I felt myself tear up a little.  But, I forced it back.  Stop.  You are doing okay.  Find the calm in the storm and stay there as long as you need.  I know where my calm is.

Weather the storm

No peace. Know peace…

Ohmmmm.

Directing attention to my third eye, I could feel the tension build.  Wait, I am supposed to be looking beyond ordinary sight.  Let me clear my mind.  I can hear my instructor telling me to focus.  I breathe in and out and feel the warmth of the hot yoga studio envelop me.  The steam embraces me and I relax.  But I still can’t believe what my friend told me right before class.  No, push those thoughts away.  Focus on your breathing.  If I was her, I would…wait.  You are not her, and you need to focus.  Those thoughts can wait.  We both enjoyed our class and pushed everything away.  Drenched in sweat, the peace descended on me.  The tension released and somehow I felt a sense of clarity.

When my friends ask me for advice, I put myself in their position and answer as honestly as I can.  No matter what, my friends know that when they ask me something, they need to be ready to hear what I have to say.  I have learned over the years to hold back until I think they are ready to hear what I have to say.  Sometimes that does not always work, but if I answered in any way other than the truth, I would have no peace.  You see, I believe that in order to know peace, you must have that moment of no peace.  Get it?

When a deep question is asked, you must dig deep for the answer.  I believe that most of the time, you already know the answer, but it is uncomfortable to face.  As humans, we go through all the emotions that make us who we are.  Shock, denial, anger, bargaining with yourself (which often leads to guilt), depression, and my favorite acceptance and hope.  During this time, you have no peace.  Sleepless nights, anxiety, headaches, and tension occur until you finally come to your decision and know peace.  At that time, you will begin to feel a sense of relief and purpose knowing what you have to do.  When you begin to move forward, you will emerge a better person.  Your time is coming.  Trust me.

“The keys to patience are acceptance and faith. Accept things as they are, and look realistically at the world around you. Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen.”  ~Ralph Marston

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No to guilt…

We all do things in life we shouldn’t do.  We don’t eat right.  We don’t exercise or we don’t lose weight.  We postpone plans.  We avoid things.  We put off making appointments.  And we carry guilt.  Guilt adds to the burdens we already carry around with us each day.  I realize that it is easier said than done, but why is it so hard to make a plan.  The guilt has the power to control you and ruin your life.  Why not turn the tables around?

There are many hills in life.  Sometimes we are climbing up, and other times we have to go down.  Since August, I have let the hills take me down.  I really have.  I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but everything that was going on in my life was getting to me.  I was letting other people in my life add their problems to mine and no one was throwing me a lifeline.  It finally dawned on me in “No”vember, that it was time for me to take control once again.  I don’t even remember handing over the reins to guilt, but there it was having a great time taking me where it wanted.

Several friends were in the middle of huge problems that had nothing to do with me.  I felt guilty saying to them that I really couldn’t help them.  These problems were beyond me, yet as I listened I felt like I was responsible for helping them out in some way.  I really needed a break, and should have found a way to say it.  Unfortunately, I have always felt responsible for helping people come up with plans to handle things.

So to continue on my journey in “No”vember, I am yanking back the reins.  I am going to re-new the gym membership I let lapse and get back to my hot yoga class.  I am making my plan and I hope you make yours.  Namaste.

“I feel like I want to take care of everyone and I also feel this terrible guilt if I am unable to. And I have felt this way ever since all this success started.”  ~Jim Carrey

Achilles’ heel…

I happen to love Greek mythology.  It was one of the many courses I took in college.  If you are not familiar with the phrase Achilles’ heel it refers to a weakness or spot of vulnerability.  We all have our own imperfections in life.  I know what mine is…sad to say.  I have been working to overcome it for about two years now.  Most of the time, we wrestle back and forth.  Sometimes it pins me down, and other times, I grin triumphantly as I slam it back down.  What am I talking about?

Worry.  Such a small word to be so overpowering in my life.  Anguish, apprehension, concern, disquiet, call it what you like, but it all boils down to the same thing.  I can’t change the events in my life by worrying about them.  The funny thing is, I come by this naturally.  I have been told on more than one occasion that I am like my father.  My dad will call me a week later about something I don’t even remember mentioning and say it’s “worrying” him.  I mean to get rid of this Achilles’ heel…okay, so I’ll settle for making it smaller.  More like an Achilles’ mole.

So now that I have identified my problem, what am I going to do to solve it?  I mentioned a while back that I was going to hot yoga.  Well, I fell off the wagon so to speak.  I am renewing my membership, and starting back up again.  It really does calm my mind and increase my balance as well as my focus.  I work hard to do what the teacher says, and at the end I feel refreshed (even though it is like 102 degrees and everyone is sweaty).  So I realize that the benefits of this outweigh the price and time it takes me to get there.  If you are reading this right now, I would like you to identify your own Achilles’ heel.  Be honest with yourself, and come up with a plan for how to overcome your weakness.

“As a rule, men worry more about what they can’t see than about what they can.” ~Julius Caesar