The Other Side

June 27, 2014 § 2 Comments

Talking with my teacher the other day the penny finally dropped on my tendency towards inertia when faced with something new to experience, learn, undertake: I forget that there is life on the other side of any seemingly unsurmountable new experience and I especially forget that I will make it through – the same way I have done so countless times before.

This forgetting – in some circles it may be termed ‘being asleep’ – germinates a whole ecosystem of excuses and mental blocks, manifesting in procrastinating behavior and a tentativity of language, punctuated by lots of ‘What Ifs’ and ‘Buts’. After an initial phase of fear-based adrenalin, Doubt starts to settle in, and overnight my apprehension is colored with shades of negativity and resentment. Shades that only deepen with time and with repeated encounters with said experience that I am terrified about. It can be something as simple as replying to a client to state my terms that no, I cannot work for free. Or bracing myself for full-on networking and self-promotion at a trade show for two full days. Or it can be something loaded with years of baggage, like picking up the phone and calling my parents just to check in. The work in both of these instances have gotten easier with time as I have grown more self-assured and aware of the boundaries I need to maintain for a healthy life. It has not been easy, but it has not been as terrifying as anticipated either.

The most frequent encounter of this nature happens in the asana practice. After receiving the first few poses of Second last year, it took me a long while to take this progression seriously. And by seriously I mean doing Primary + Second and dropbacks every damn day, without letting myself get away with doing just Primary. I’ll admit: for a couple of months after getting Bhekasana, I wanted to give the entire Second series back and just live the rest of my life doing Primary. But no, they kept coming: Dhanurasana, Parsva Dhanurasana, Ustrasana and Lagu Vajrasana. I was always tired. I wasn’t sleeping well. I was (possibly still am) cranky all the frickin’ time. I lived under the shadow of the prospect that I was going to gravely injure myself at any given time. It didn’t take much for me to fly off the handle and I found myself constantly, constantly!, bitching about everything in my stream of thought.

This was no way to live, I thought. Yoga is supposed to support my life – not drain me of energy! How the hell am I supposed to work – and do physical, load-lugging work at that – when stumbling out of the studio half-dead by 9am?!

For a while I alternated the Primary + Second days with Primary-only days. I even managed to make the case for a Half-Primary + Second sequence as my regular practice, imagine that! This went on for about four months, the excuses, the ‘oh yoga is not about how many poses I do’ and ‘I’m living reality here, not Mysore-reality so those Mysore rules don’t apply’, etc. All defense mechanisms of the ego protecting itself in its comfortable little bubble of a Primary-only life. With such a well-trodden path to endorphin bliss, who needs Intermediate with all its potholes of darkness?

Of course I see this only in hindsight.

Over a month ago my teacher came up to me and said, “I’d like you to try this (full practice) for a month”. What can you do but give it a go? Despite a busy month of travel and a deep taproot of Doubt, I terrifyingly took one step towards a full practice that day. And the next day. And the next day. It helped to have a really beautiful and special Certified teacher come visit for a week – you could tell that everyone pushed themselves a little harder over that period, not out of striving but out of devotion – and what do you know? I am doing Primary + Second + Dropbacks with regularity that it is not even a big deal any more. There’s still a pause after Setu Bandhasana, but for the most part: I have reached the Other Side and life goes on.


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§ 2 Responses to The Other Side

  • suzanne says:

    love love love this post. i am the same way about new things..and now, with second looming in the near future..oy. amazing how much fear, anxiety and mental resistance there is..just like when i start anything else new. i swear it seems worse than when i started practicing..though maybe now i only am seeing it more clearly. as for second, i started plotting ways not to go to the shala because i didnt want to even have the possibility of starting when i didn’t feel ready.
    looking forward (hopefully) to being on the other side of this one this fall.

    • D says:

      Yup – and once you get through to the other side, there’s another battle to face and another one, and another one. “The only way out is through” – in practice as in life!

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