I am getting in the way of myself.
I am that person who walks too slow but with unpredictable side lunges down a cramped grocery store aisle making it impossible to pass.
For the last few weeks I have felt like every move I made was blocked by something out of my control. These road blocks were named Max, Jack, auto-immune disease, house repairs, birthday party, life, and technical problems. At first I attempted to scoot around these road blocks, but just like the old lady in the grocery store, it felt like every time I veered left, she did too, one step ahead of me. Eventually I resigned myself to the slower pace. I told myself to just wait out this busy time.
The aisle cleared, but I am still blocked, so it must be me.
I am the reason my yoga practice has been spotty, my eating habits poor, my bedtime too late, my meditation time antsy, my writing time dull. Sometimes I watch myself staying up late to watch a TV show I don’t really enjoy, knowing full well this will mean I’ll miss my morning workout, feel groggy during writing time and probably reach for a sweet to console myself over these failures. I sit there and wonder, Why are you doing this to yourself? You know better. You know what you need to do. You’d be so much happier if you’d just turn off the TV, go to bed, and wake up full of energy. I sit there and ponder my self-sabotage all the while perpetuating it. One program ends, another begins.
Wonderful life passes me by
while I sit and contemplate why?
I am done. I’m not sure I can answer the whys of self-sabotage. Is it a deep-seeded fear of success? Is it just the laziness of a bad habit? The fact is, it doesn’t matter why I’m getting in the way of myself. Now that I am aware of it, I can step aside. This is going to require a bit of will-power in the beginning. The force of habit is strong, but I will use that knowledge to my advantage. Once a good habit is formed, it becomes a powerful tool. It’s such a great feeling to wake up and lace up my sneakers without a pep talk. Before my vacation I had a good rhythm going, so all I need to do is get it back.
This is opposite of how I used to solve my problems. I used to delve deep into my psyche and try to figure everything out. I thought if I understood myself better, I could make better choices. In reality, it’s just as hard to make those right choices, whether or not I completely understand the reasons behind my actions. Changing a habit feels wrong in the moment even when I know in my heart that it’s the right choice. Sometimes we just have to learn by doing, not by thinking.
When I was studying yoga in India, Master-ji taught me new postures as he saw fit. One day, I was in Downward-facing Dog and he told me, “OK, now jump on your shoulders.”
Absorbed in my practice and unaware that I was about to learn a new posture, I looked up at him quizzically and asked, “Um, what?”
“Why do you always question me?” he raged. “Teacher told you to do something, do it! Learn by doing. Jump on your shoulders.”
Startled by his outburst, I did what he asked. I jumped on my shoulders and in a flash I mastered Bhujapidasana. I grinned with surprised pride.
“Sometimes body teaches brain,” Master-ji told me. “You Westerners always try to make brain teach the body, but it doesn’t always work that way. Body can teach brain too. The brain doesn’t know everything.”
He’s right. If I had taken the time to analyze the new posture I was attempting, I would have complicated things and doubted my strength in an arm balance. Turns out it was laughably easy for me. When I teach my students the same posture I always say, ”Jump on your shoulders.” When they look confused, I repeat myself. That’s the best way to learn that posture: jump and learn. Not think, and learn nothing.
It’s time to step aside, Self. It’s time to get out of my way.
It’s time to jump on my shoulders, again.