#YogaEveryDamnDay 8: Can't Fake the Core
That started my life-long fascination with doors. Like this Death Cab song. And the set of Clifton Henri prints I recently bought at the Des Moines Art Festival. I like how doors represent choices; it's reassuring to know that there is always another one around the corner, and at the same time, it can be a little terrifying if you're like me and ... want all the options, all the time. It's not that I'm indecisive. It's that I don't like the finality of closing doors; I want it all, or at least, the possibility of it all. I want to travel and yet feel grounded in a single place. I want commitment and freedom. I want a lot of things that run alongside each other or are perhaps exact opposites, and that can be hard to manage.
Even if I know which door I'd like to choose in a given situation, I still have that knee-jerk, panic button reaction of, Wait! What if I want this one instead?! And then sometimes I try to select all the options, and that just never works out because, well, you can't walk through multiple doors at one time. You don't get unlimited opportunities to explore everything -- as others have put it, you can do anything but not every thing.
I heard once (in yoga class, obvs) that for a strong core, you need a strong spine, because your gut requires your backbone. That visual really connects the dots in terms of decision-making: if you feel something in your core, people often say it's your truth, your third eye, your intuition. But it's easy to ignore that voice or sense, which can have minor or major consequences. Acting upon a core feeling means trusting in your own stamina to get through whatever hurdles or challenges might come along the way.
To make matters even more difficult, sometimes the right door is really ugly and beaten-up and the exact opposite of the door you thought you wanted, the pretty, shiny, new one. You can't see what's behind each one, so you might try to guess, and you might guess wrong. That uncertainty is part of life, part of living and growing. Because if you simply stand still and pretend like you don't have to walk through any door, you end up ... in a boring room standing still all by yourself. That's no fun, is it?
On Monday, I taught two classes that were very different: one in a small place with three students, and another at a corporate gym with five times that many. One of the coolest-- and scariest -- aspects of teaching is that you never know what you're going to get. And when I say "get," I mean, teaching is not about you at all, so it's not about what you literally "get" out of it. It's that you can plan an incredible sequence, with great music, and the perfect quote to share ... and then you show up, and half your class has no clue what you're talking about in downward-facing dog, or the stereo isn't working, or you were going to do boat pose on a block but there aren't enough blocks, or people keep talking to one another during class, etc. (Aka, this may have been exactly what happened between the two classes...)
Then you're all, OKAY, universe, I shall scrap my plans.
Now, that doesn't mean you literally throw up your hands and walk out. It just means when you entered the space and came through the door, figuratively or not, you had some preset expectations, and today maybe you were wrong, because you can't predict the future. (I have to remind myself that I can't predict the future, like, three times a day.)
When I finally made it to my own mat Monday night, wooooooo, boy. She asked us to think about our comfort zones -- how the thing we really want to do can be super scary, because we don't know exactly how it will turn out -- and how venturing outside of them often leads to the biggest rewards. Then I realized that class might be kinda hard. And it was. About halfway through, I was about 16 miles outside of my comfort zone. I was so tired and hot and sweaty. I kept waiting for half pigeon, but we just. continued. flowing. Afterwards, a friend echoed my sentiments exactly: "Wasn't there a point when you just thought, there's no way we're not done yet?" Ha. I got home and immediately showered, ate dinner, then relaxed on the couch with a magazine and a pint of ice cream (<-- buy this now)*.
Today I'm sore in weird places, which is a good thing. It's a reminder. In yoga, we get really set in our poses, we think we've got them down pat, so we stop trying as hard. Same with life. Everything gets routine -- our meals, our conversations, our relationships, the things we read and watch and see and experience -- which can cause us to slack off, to anticipate comfort and ease at all times. But I don't think that's really what any of us want in this one, short life we get to live, and it's not how life works. **
Go outside your comfort zone. Choose doors that you normally wouldn't, and let the ones you've already chosen or not chose slam shut. Honor your core and your spine, your truth and your strength. Make choices based on the knowledge you have about yourself and your situation and the world in the present moment, and then move on. (Shout-out to my mama for that advice!) Know that walking your own path will absolutely feel uncertain and scary and wildly uncomfortable at times, but:
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**The kinds of ruts I'm describing have nothing to do with depression or anxiety; I'm focusing on the normal ebbs and flows of life. I feel like this is important to say in light of the tragic death of Robin Williams, and the difficult journeys so many people are on.