I needed rest. Quiet. Comfort. A practice that restored all the energy expended in Studying, Practicing and Moving my body, Supporting my clients, Living and processing all the many emotional repercussions of Life, Thinking (my god, it never stops, and it’s exhausting). My massage therapy schooling, with it’s classes in anatomy, massage technique, somatic psychology, self-development, and business all proved to be much more intense mentally, emotionally and physically than I could have imagined or planned for. And, as I mentioned in my last post, I got into the habit of skipping one of the practices that could best support me during this time.
My goal was to practice Savasana every day through the new year, whether as an end to my physical practice or in place of it. And I did (almost) every day, documenting all along the way. I’d like to say I don’t need the satisfaction that comes with documentation – but this is how we meet our goals sometimes. Sometimes, this is how we get what we need, by making a tick mark every day and not wanting to break a streak or by sharing our practice and our progress with others. And this is how we grow from the practice, by observing ourselves in it – how we approach it, how we react to bumps in the road, how we treat ourselves in the process, what thoughts and emotions come up along the way (usually, all of them – from pride to disappointment, relief, joy, frustration).
This is what I observed:
1. Pride: I love a streak. It feels good to say, even in the privacy of my own mind, that I can follow through with something I’ve committed to. Having a written/visual record of this, privately in my journal, and publicly (in this case), encouraged me to keep going, to mark it down, to avoid a blank space in between.
2. Humility: Pride can be our downfall, too. Rigidity used to be my game, man. If I missed a day of practice I took it as proof of my inconstancy. I knew I couldn’t do it all along. Why bother trying? That day would turn into six months and that cycle kept me static for a long, long time. A few years ago, I finally established consistency in my practice. I proceeded to practice every single day for the next year – a feat I never dreamed possible and my terror of breaking it was not only competitive, it was borderline abusive. Now, I can miss a day (or two) without everything falling apart. Humility and self-regard go hand in hand.
2. Kindness: I have moments, of course, when I am not so kind to myself. I can notice it, and begin again. The first day I missed, I felt a need to mention it, to say “I know I did that” almost as an apology, as if I were letting anyone down but myself, and as if missing a day was a failure. The second day I missed, later on in the process, I felt a great tenderness. We are imperfect. We are flawed. We are human. And we can start over, any time, on any project, any commitment. Thank goodness for that, or we’d never get anywhere, with anything.
4. Commitment: Kindness sometimes comes in the form of discipline. I can follow through, even when it’s challenging. I can be honest when missing a day was a necessary circumstance of life, and when I could have planned better – and make a note for next time. Accountability does not equate to, or require, abuse. I can separate the two. I can be disciplined without being harsh.
5. Adaptability: Being flexible makes it so much easier to maintain our commitments. I practiced in my apartment, at school, on the road in various lodgings, in airports and on trails, on beaches and benches and with my head laid in the lap of my spouse. I adapted the position and support of my body to what felt most comfortable and to what I most needed at the time. I practiced in the morning, the afternoon, and just before midnight. Sometimes, our lives are conducive to practicing at the same time of day, every day. And sometimes, if we force a structure that doesn’t support our circumstances or our lifestyle, we are simply setting ourselves up for failure. I would have given up on this practice in a few short days if I had not allowed myself to adapt.
All of these are qualities that show up in normal course of my practice. There are cycles to this thing, and all of this I just continue to observe, to practice, and learn on a deeper and deeper level. Here’s another, that I knew from the very early days of my practice, but I forgot it for awhile:
When the need for space is fed, the ability to make space grows. Such a sweet, simple truth, and a gift to re-learn. My seated practice resurfaced very easily during this time, small and sweet, with no pressure or badgering or ultimatums.
I’m happy to report that savasana has mostly been much easier since, a restorative, supportive break – and my physical practice in the new year has blessedly adjusted to accommodate a full savasana. I needed this, so much more than I thought I did when I began.
Happy New Year friends. I hope your practices carried you through the holidays and the end of 2014 with support and, and that your transition into this new year has been joyful.