Last week was rough. I have this old pain in a muscle of my right inner thigh that flared up again and I haven’t been able to resolve the issue with my usual methods. Sometimes, with physical pain, I recognize that I won’t always feel this way and I think, “Hey, this might be a good time for more self-care and slowing down“ and then I do that. That didn’t happen last week. I completely forgot that I won’t always feel this way, I got angry at my leg, and I wandered around feeling broken and sad.
Leg pain is one thing. It is unpleasant, but it’s just sensation. There’s no emotion that automatically goes with it. My mind provides that. It notices the pain and says, “Ooh, pain? Yeah, I remember that. It happens when my leg hurts and it happens when I feel overwhelmed and insufficient.” So then, with the help of my memory, I go back into my personal pain library and drag up some pain-inducing mental-anguish favorites. I layer the old anguish onto the stuff that is happening right now in my life so I can maintain this painful state of overwhelm and insufficiency. Amanda, you still don’t have a plan for teaching yoga…You need to sit down for 45 hours straight and come up with a detailed yoga curriculum for the next year or five. AAAAND your relationship needs some serious attention. You have to quit having a good time and get down to the nitty-gritty. Deal with the 500 things that might potentially cause problems for you immediately. AAAANNNNDdd your children!!!! You should be devoting all of your time loving and teaching those girls. What are you doing with all your time, anyway? Mind of mine, this isn’t constructive. It feels punative and unreasonable and I don’t want to do any of it. But I can’t shake it, either. I go on with the leg pain and the self-imposed mental anguish and I call my friend, Joel.
Joel and I have a visit over coffee. He asks how I am. I say “bad,” and we start to talk about all the reasons I feel overwhelmed and insufficient (see above). He asks if I wanted to think about things to do, but my problems have all become so huge and impossible in my mind that really there is no solution. I explain this in the whiniest tone possible. He sits back in his chair and says, “When I’m feeling overwhelmed, the two things that help me are more yoga and more meditation.” He says this in such a nice way that I know it isn’t a punitive or harsh-discipline sort of thing. It is loving kindness. I imagine Joel doing more yoga and meditation to help center himself, clear away the pain-distractions and practice self-care and love. More yoga and meditation is totally do-able. It is gentle and kind and it isn’t about fixing things, but about letting go of this made up anguish that really has nothing to do with my leg and making space for goodness to come on in. Once Joel says this, I feel so much lighter. I am so happy that I don’t have to go on hating myself for neglecting to spend 45 hours scribbling my yoga plan for the next 3 lifetimes. I don’t have to draft a manifesto addressing the doubts and questions around educating my girls. I don’t have to figure out why Dave and I broke up and got back together or come up with a master plan that describes precisely what to do about all of it. I don’t have to muster any gumption or try really hard to do anything. I just need to move my body in ways that nourish and support me, sit in meditation to quiet and focus this bonkers-mind and then the answers might come. Or maybe answers don’t come, but I receive the patience to be with all of this uncertainty. Whatever the outcome, the remedy is the same: more yoga and meditation. It’s is good self-care and self-love and I like it so much more than tackling a list of impossible tasks. Joel, that was the best thing I’ve heard all week. Thanks.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.16 from T.K.V. Desikachar’s book, The Heart of Yoga
When an individual has achieved complete understanding of his true self, he will no longer be disturbed by the distracting influences within and around him.
I love this sutra. It says that an individual, like myself, can actually achieve complete understanding of my true self. That’s so awesome. Then there’s a BONUS!!! I will no longer be disturbed. Hear that leg pain and old mental anguish??!! You are about to get knocked off the “distracting influences” list. yoga rocks.