Leaning Towards the Light

A friend of mine the other day was telling me that she “should” be taking advantage of these free yoga classes offered in her neighboring town.  This was in conjunction of feeling like low-carbs “works best for her,” and p.s. she hates the way that she looks and feels.

It got me to thinking about the ways in which I could relate—to all of it.  To feeling like I always “should” be doing more, I should be eating “low-carb,” (Carbs = bad, right?!), I should be going to yoga, I should be juicing every day.  We’ve talked a lot here on the blog and face-to-face about taking some of the pressure off and just trying to soak ourselves in compassion and love every day for what we are doing. 

But it doesn’t really work that way, does it?  Just telling ourselves to be nicer and that somehow we’ll “do it tomorrow.” It’s not really working well for me, and I bet it isn’t for you, either.  Why?  Because we need to really gather some clarity on what we exactly we want, why we want it, and what’s getting in the way.

When I dug deeper with my friend, we found out some useful stuff.  She was so afraid of “looking silly” and having the teacher come up to her repeatedly and correct her, that she had been making excuses for months not to go to the classes.  I mentioned that yoga just isn’t for everybody, but she actually seemed pretty adamant that she thought the stretching and breathing would be really good for her.  She just needed to get over the psychological part of it.  (This is exactly why I started taking private yoga classes, truth be told.  When I wanted to go to my first group class again after years of not going, I didn’t want to look like an idiot.  Boom!  I’m found out).

We all have something holding us back, don’t we?  Our egos or past experiences of feeling like we “failed” at something or were embarrassed or shamed. These experiences stay with us, and can shape us into the people that we are today.  But now that I have started doing the work, I am slowly (verrry slowly) realizing that these are what we call “limiting beliefs.”  If we believe that we can’t do something, then we can’t.  And don’t.

I spent a long time talking with my friend about how she was feeling.  I tried to offer her compassion and support.  I made sure she knew that just because I was offering up some suggestions does not mean– in any way– that I get it perfectly; that I’m not certified in anything except for some major life experiences.  I still struggle almost every day to find balance between taking care of myself and being kind to myself; wondering if I’m going to allow myself to feel guilt (yes, I used the word “allow”) for something that I may or may not eat or drink.  But with the self-compassion and the work on shifting the perception of how I see myself, I find my heart bubbling over to talk with others about how they see themselves.  Are they happy?  Are they finding their joy?  What’s blocking them, if not?  What’s blocking me?  I’ve started journaling at night and putting things onto paper that I would be mortified to actually say out loud.  I’ve been connecting with the real fears—the ones that make my body ache, the ones that I try to disconnect from so that I don’t fall apart.  Gabby Bernstein says to “recognize, record, and release.”  I can feel the fear, and I know that this is part of my journey to living more authentically, but I always look forward to the moment after it passes through my body when I can then let it go.  It may not happen right away because guess what?  I’m human, and this is all totally new for me.  What I believe is that by shifting not just perceptions, but the perceptions that I have about myself, I can create a whole new abundance of happiness.  But as Wayne Dyer says, ”
“You’ll see it when you believe it.”  Goosebumps, right?

I asked my friend what would happen if she stopped focusing on counting calories or carbs, stopped zeroing in on the parts of her body that she dislikes, or completely forgot the number on the scale.  What if, I asked, she simply thinks about what makes her feel good, and what makes her feel icky?  I over ate a couple of weeks ago while on our staycation, and immediately I knew what I had done.  I didn’t just feel mentally awful, I felt physically awful.  Stuffed to the gills, it ruined the experience of good-tasting food. It was as if I had forgotten that whatever I was eating (veggie burger and sweet potato fries, yum) could be on my plate another day, if I so choose, because I don’t choose the road of deprivation.  That day, it all went out the window, and I realized that my body just isn’t used to eating that much anymore.  So what if my friend stopped looking at the amount of calories or carbs in something, stopped shaming herself because she doesn’t go to a nearby yoga class, and instead thought, “What would make my body really happy, not just now, but an hour from now?  2 hours from now?”  Less processed ingredients.  More fresh.  Giving my palette something new to try.  Maybe doing something physical for a few minutes. That kind of thing.  It’s taken me years and years (and years) to be able to say that I am truly working on what I just said.  That part of me living authentically is to tell you what my journey is like, honestly, in the hopes that maybe it can help you on yours.

We’re “supposed to” (there are those words again) live “in-the-moment,” which I love to strive for.  But here’s an exception:  When deciding what to put into our bodies, let’s think about not just how it’s going to feel in the present moment, but how it will feel afterwards as well.  And while we’re at it, why don’t we do the same for our minds?  It may feel noteworthy to tell myself that the scar on my left eyelid will always be noticed, that the joke that I told at work was not a winner, that I said something stupid to my friend the other day. Somehow, I’m so used to reminding myself all the ways in which I’ve screwed up, but what if I thought– no what if I believed-– (which I’m really starting to) that being kind to myself was good for my health?

My therapist has been helping me to understand that all of the things that I’ve been doing to feel good like drinking green juice and lifting weights and cooking is wonderful.  And yet if when the sun sets at the end of the day and I haven’t had juice that morning or didn’t work out or couldn’t find the time to meditate, but I feel great, that’s all that really matters. When I say goodnight to SHL at the end of the day if I feel joyous, healthy, at peace and filled with love, let’s not forget about the significance of that.

My friend just called to tell me that she’s going to her yoga class this weekend.  And whether or not she does, the most important thing will be how she feels about herself.   My hope for her, yoga or no yoga, is that she feels joyful and healthy.  Because that is our birthright, my friends.  And I will continue to remind you (and myself) of that, as we lean towards the light.

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