Hello Dear Readers!
It has been too long since my last blog post... I have been working on some special projects these past few weeks, but they are wrapping up now and I am looking forward to getting back to my "regular" schedule.
I began drafting this blog post in my mind last Saturday during Spinning class...
It all started when I woke up last Saturday feeling not so hot and discovered a giant cold sore on my lip. I feel like everyone has their own unique physical manifestation of stress and this is mine for sure. Lovely, eh? Needless to say, I wanted to crawl right back into my comfy bed and whine to my husband about my stressful life. But I didn't. I got ready and went to the studio to teach.
After class I was still feeling pretty crappy and I spotted some leftover cupcakes just calling to me to chug them down along with my cup of decaf. But I didn't. I had organic yogurt and a banana instead.
Then I really wanted to crawl back into bed and feel sorry for myself. But I didn't. I hauled myself over to the YMCA for a 75 minute Spinning class.
As the instructor was yelling at us, "Push it, push it, push it. I said PUSH IT," I started thinking about discipline or what we yogis call tapas.
Discipline for me is about returning to my practices - whether they be eating healthy foods, meditating, practicing yoga on the mat or off, or exercising - not just when I feel like it, but even when I don't.
However, I also think it is hugely important to be responsive to our needs and gentle with ourselves. To balance effort and surrender. For example, I'm writing this post from my bed on a Friday afternoon when I had intended to go for a run, pick up my new contacts, stop at the bank, etc.
So how does one decide whether to stay in bed or cajole yourself up and out? To indulge in the cupcake or eat the banana? To run or to nap? There is no easy answer.
This is something I continue to struggle with myself, but I have found that taking the time to really tap into myself before deciding helps me to know what I really need in that given moment. For me this a two-fold process. First, I aim to regularly engage in activities that help me reconnect within, such as practicing yoga, journaling, and taking Artist Dates. Second, when I find myself having a crappy day I try to carve out a few quiet moments to decipher what I really need.
Yesterday as I driving 100+ miles at 6am in the midst of lake-effect snow and white-out conditions I started to whine to myself about the situation I found myself in. "This sucks. The weather has been great all week and now it is awful on the day I have to drive for work. I'm scared. I can't see anything. I don't want to do this. I'm tired." You get the point...
I just happened to be listening to a Tranquility du Jour podcast on "Being Buddha-ful" and Kimberly was talking about how the crappy days are our teachers, even if we are not in the mood for the lesson. So I decided to transform the story I was telling myself (a SARK-ism). To return to the practice of mindfulness and simply observe what was happening without judgment. I reminded myself that I was in a tough situation, but that suffering was optional. I loosened my grip on the steering wheel a bit, stop trying to rush (a futile effort), and conceded I would arrive when I arrived. I began to feel more relaxed. I was thankful to have the opportunity to listen to a podcast. I sipped my hot coffee. I noticed the sun rising. And it made the difference in terms of how the rest of my day went. Just like last week when I dragged myself to Spinning. I felt better afterwards. And just like today when I am feeling better after an hour spent doing nothing.
Again I think of discipline as returning to the practices I am committed to for growth. And I am practicing tuning into what I need to be my best self and doing my best to respond to that, whether it be cupcakes or bananas.
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