It’s still dark out and my watch just beeped.
There are a gazillion reasons not to get up and prepare my body for practice. My wrist, back, and shoulder are sore and it’s cold outside and warm under my blanket. I just want to sleep today. But without practicing, my yoga and meditation are just theory. Even if I just get to the studio, unroll my mat, and plop, it’s still a step towards awesome. I get up and out because the alternative to feeling awesome is not pretty.
Here are the concepts that move me when the alarm rings:
Think less, do more
Practice is the application of an idea or belief; it’s not a research project. It can be applied to art, relationships, healing, learning, fitness, parenting, work, or anything that can grow and improve with consistency and mindfulness. For instance, you can read about how to row, but until you park your butt in a rowing shell and dip your oars in the water, it’s just knowledge. It’s the doing that is the teacher.
Once I decided to heal my back without surgery or drugs, I committed to a healing practice of yoga, meditation, diet, inversions, and whatever else I find to make me feel awesome. I learned to surrender to the practice day-in and day-out without judgment. I can’t yet do a full forward bend, but I can call out its Sanskrit name, breath to its count, gaze at its drishti, and hold the pose with integrity. Surrender may sound weak, but I think it’s a sign of unshakable confidence in one’s intuition.
Just because I surrendered does not mean that my practice is set in stone. I constantly come across new ideas, inspirations, and challenges that selectively make their way into my routine. Here is my latest: the yoga inversion sling (see photo above). It relieves back pain by providing a spinal traction which creates openings between the vertebrae. Hanging out has evolved to be part of my back restoration project.
The restoration project also required me to scale back my ambitions. I had to adopt a new strategy to mastery. I had to apply a geological time scale for reaching new goals. In my search, I read an exceptional book by George Leonard called “Mastery.” In it, Leonard emphasizes that you should practice primarily for the sake of the practice itself. So instead of being frustrated while on the endless plateaus, I began to enjoy them as much as the occasional leaps of progress. If nothing else, I learned to love refining the details.
Gone are the days that I could push my body endlessly. It’s slowing down and I need to accept it with grace. Some days it’s my back that’s tweaked and sometimes it’s the wrist, the shoulder — or whatever. But the practice is always there no matter what. It’s my time to do what I can, to breathe, to clear, to focus, and to push my mind. My awesome body will follow sooner or later — especially if I get it out of bed.
Sometimes I wonder if this is all an addiction or a desperate need for control. What do you think?