Day 6 – Mindfulness Year and a Day
I’ve been trying to write this particular blog post for a few days, but other things keep butting in, making themselves more important. Which is actually kind of ironic… seeing as how this post is all about just DOING it.
Slightly embarrassing story moment: A few years ago, my husband and I had talked about both of us getting in better shape; we needed to eat healthier, exercise more, drink more water… you know the drill. Those discussions happened, like they tend to, toward the end of the year, smack-dab in the middle of Junk Food Season.
Both of us got sick around January 1st (which, of course, was the day we were going to start on this new health journey). Because we were both sick, we didn’t start on January 1st.
None of this is abnormal, right? This sounds like the setup to every “get fit” resolution-turned-failure story in existence, correct?
Here’s the embarrassing part: I remember thinking, “Well, so much for that. I guess we have to wait until next year .”
And I believed that!
100%, down to the bones, internalized belief.
Though, looking back, I realize it wasn’t belief; it was fear. Abject terror, in fact. You see, many years ago, pre-babies, I wasn’t just fit…. I was “run half marathons in my sleep” fit. I was “hit the gym and bench my own weight a few times a week” ripped. I was “I’m so fit, I can party like a rock star and still go for my morning run” able-bodied. I was also training to be a yoga and Qigong instructor during this time.
My fear of “what I once was” looked me right down the nose, and I knew I may never get back to that point (because, to be honest, that took 2 hours a day to maintain, and I flat-out don’t have that amount of free time). It was terrifying. Depressing. Too much to fucking take.
So I did nothing.
I’ve been thinking about daily yoga practice for several years without actually doing anything about it. I’d convinced myself I couldn’t do it because: time, kids, commitments, job, sleep, priorities, the sudden need to clip my toenails…
But really, it came down to where I was once vs. where I am now.
I know for a fact that yoga practice helps calm my anxiety. It’s not a cure, but it sure makes me more present in every moment, which goes a long, long way toward stemming the anxiety attacks.
I know for a fact that yoga practice eases my depression. It doesn’t take the feeling away, but it does give me an outlet that I can tap into just by focusing my breath and moving.
I know for a fact that yoga practice eases my back pain, removes my shoulders from my ears, and lessens the wrist and finger pain I feel from working a desk job.
I’m deeply aware that I’m a nicer person if I practice.
But starting back on that path was terrifying, and every time I thought, “I should get up out of this chair and go do 10 minutes of yoga” my brain would flood with questions: And then what? Ten minutes is nothing… I used to do this shit for hours. Won’t I feel like a fraud when I can’t do <insert pose> anymore? And even if I do continue, what happens when I feel better, stronger and more capable? I won’t be like I was. And anyway, I have important shit to deal with. What becomes of my worries, my fears and my doubts? Will they become obsolete? And then what? What could I possibly worry about then? (Seriously, I’ve had that exact thought). Will I just be more at ease? No… not possible.
And so I’d stay put, and scroll on my phone, and do nothing. Or I’d tell myself I had more important things to do… and then I wouldn’t do those things, either.
I can’t say why I finally started again. I found the Yoga with Adriene series on YouTube via a Facebook friend-of-a-friend, and I was like… okay… I can do this. I decided I’d get up at 5:15 and give myself 45 minutes before the day started to take care of myself. There wasn’t a major breakthrough. My internal mind still chattered away at itself. And I won’t lie: some days are super frustrating, some days I just don’t make it to the mat (whether because of the aforementioned anxiety or just because I have a million and ten things to do, or because I turned my alarm off and went back to sleep). But I’ve made it to the mat most days over the last couple months.
My back, arms and neck feel better. My soul feels better. I don’t freak out in traffic nearly as much. I’m less compelled by the computer screen. I’ve painted, worked on cosplay outfits with my daughter, gone on long Pokémon Go walks with my son, walked a 5k, made an effort to reach out to friends – because I want to (this is huge), and I’ve generally felt more like the “me” I know I’m supposed to be.
My invitation for you today is simple: don’t wait. Whatever it is that you’re not doing because your inner voice tells you that now isn’t the time to start… just start. (Healthy practices only, please… if your brain is telling you to do drugs, ignore that shit. Do yoga instead 😉 )
Because, you see, we’re all students in the beginning.
I’ll leave you with the words of Harry Potter: “Every great wizard in history started out as nothing more than we are now. Students. If they could do it, why not us?”
You don’t need to achieve greatness on day one. You don’t have to be what you once were, or even achieve your end goal – ever – as long as you put your first foot on the path and move intentionally forward.
So don’t wait. There’s no magic in Monday, or the first of a month, or the beginning of the year, or a specific time of day. In fact, there’s no day like today. You haven’t lived the next moment yet… so sink into that moment, make it intentionally yours, and tell your fears to take a hike. You got this.