Thursday, February 28, 2013

why I love yoga

There are about 100 reasons I love yoga.  These are the top ten:

1.  Yoga clothes.  Stretchy, comfy, non-binding, mildly-flattering.  Say no more.

2.  Awesome pose names.  When my sister and I were little, we used to make up words by putting syllables together and saying them confidently, as if they were words.  Our best combos?  Plib-doo, snib-wad, dil-do.  Yoga brings me back to my childhood roots, with words like hanumanasana, eka pada rajakapotasana and dwi pada viparita dandasana (Upward Facing Two-Foot Staff Pose, if you must know.)

3.  Being with myself.  It's an hour and a half where I don't have to think about anything but whether my foot is in alignment with my knee.  Or if the stretch in my shoulder feels good or not.

4.  Having a bodily sense of humor.  I've been lucky to have yoga instructors who are not serious downers.  They've all been very gentle, friendly, easy women (hey! not that kind of easy!) who take their own practice with a grain of salt, and encourage us to take ours that way.

5.  Connecting with Lisa.  She's my yoga buddy.  Going without her feels different.  Not bad different, but I like it better when she's there.

6.  Dedicating my practice to something.  My instructor encourages us to take a moment at the beginning of class to pick something to dedicate the next 90 minutes to.  I don't know if I'm supposed to think about my dedication for the next 90 minutes (I rarely do), but I like the idea that the universe is responding to my issue -- kind of like the Prayers for the People that we did growing up in the Episcopal church.  But way less Jesus-y.  I've dedicated my practice to forgiveness, to Lisa, to my future boyfriend, wheresoever he is...

7.  Did I mention the yoga clothes?  I've lost my ability to dress like a professional.

8.  Savasana.  Corpse pose.  Basically, laying on the floor, dead-like for 10-15 minutes.  Letting thoughts come and go.  Wrapped in a blanket, rewarding myself for taking the time for myself.

9.  Using my mat.  I've had it for a hundred years and only recently started using it.  Now I feel better about the space it takes up in my apartment.

10.  Being done with yoga.  There's this nice, rubber noodle feeling afterwards.  Like I'm in a warm broth of happiness, relaxation, and peace.  And what am I wearing?  Yoga clothes.  Say no more.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

acceptance and forgiveness

I feel like acceptance and forgiveness are like the chicken and the egg -- which comes first?

I have a friend, who, when he was my boyfriend, dumped me three different times.  The first time he dumped me because he got a promotion at work and was too busy to see me.  The second time he dumped me because he freaked out and felt so overwhelmed by his life that he couldn't make time in it for me.  And the third time he dumped me, surprise surprise, he didn't have time for me.

The first two times, I forgave him (obviously), but I didn't accept that the way he was (and the reasons for which he was dumping me) wasn't going to change.  I thought, "oh, if only he gets a less stressful job," or "if only he chose to make having a relationship a priority, this could work."  Except that that's not who he is.  Work is his priority.  No matter how much he talks about wanting a relationship (and he does), until that core value of his changes, he won't have one.  Or at least not with me.

The third time he dumped me, however, I went beyond forgiveness into acceptance.  I finally saw him for who he is, for where he is, and for what he's capable of now, not in some distant, magical future.  I let go of his potential, and accepted his actual.  The funny thing is, I don't know how I did it.  All I know is that it's done.

He came to me recently and told me he had a choice between a job that would be less demanding (but potentially more spiritually fulfilling -- yay!) and one that would be more demanding (but potentially soul-crushing -- boo!).  I knew immediately which he would choose, even though I was hoping he could find it in himself to choose the other one.  When he told me, he was worried I would be disappointed in him.  And while I'll admit I was sad that he was going to miss another opportunity to take his life in a new direction,  I wasn't the least bit disappointed in him.  Because I can now accept him for who he is.

In this case, forgiveness came before acceptance.  Three times.

However, I'm struggling with a non-romantic relationship right now, and I'm feeling pulled to accept before forgiving.  I know the situation won't change.  I know that.  But I'm finding it hard to give up hope that it will.  And that hope is addictive.  It's alluring.  And it's what leads me straight to disappointment.

When I write it out, it seems perfectly clear:  If I can accept that things won't change and I can forgive this person for being who he is (and not being who I want/hope/need him to be) then I'm scott free.  If I can let that hope die, then I can also rid myself of the disappointment.

So why am I having such a hard time with it?  Did the chicken have this much trouble with the egg?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What evidence do you see?

In a conversation last night I was reminded of how easy it is to be so focused on seeing ourselves negatively – as somehow lacking, in need of improvement, or otherwise deficient – and how quickly life will serve us evidence that what we think is true. For example, if I think I’m imperfect, the enormous bruise on my leg (and my stupid clumsiness that led to it in the first place) will convince me I’m right. If I think I need to be better than I am, the feedback from my boss will convince me that I’m no good at my job. And if I think I’m deficient, not hearing from the guy I gave my card to will seal the deal on that one.

However, and this is the part that takes reminding, the reverse is also true. If we’re focused on seeing ourselves in a gentler, more accepting light, life will serve us evidence of that, too. If I think I’m human, I can laugh at the bruise – it is really nasty and a good story. If I’m patient with myself, I’ll see the helpful kernel in my boss’s advice. And if I believe I’m whole, I’ll let that guy sort his business out without me.

It’s all about selective attention.

Look at the video below and you’ll see what I mean.

Unfortunately, I knew what I was getting into before I saw the video, so I saw the gorilla walk right through the middle. But I could also see how, if I were focused intently (like I am sometimes on being hard on myself), I could miss it.

Think about what you gather evidence for, and if it’s what you really want to prove to yourself. If not, what can you do differently to prove yourself perfect, just the way you are?