Sweet Savasana or What I Noticed in the Last 40 days

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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. 

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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.

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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.

If you’d like to read the daily pieces I wrote during this project, check them out on Instagram under #savasanasunset2014, or for a nicer reading experience, check them out on Tumblr.

2 comments on “Sweet Savasana or What I Noticed in the Last 40 days

  1. There is so much here Mel. Too much to respond to really…as I was reading, I just kept nodding my head. Yes. Um yes to that one too. YES!! Some of what you wrote regarding daily challenges, accountability, pride, kindness etc…all that has been on my mind a ton these first few weeks of the new year. I’ve got some daily challenges I’m working on (nothing extreme and all are things that I strive for anyway but in this new year I wanted to actually detail when I do them or not because sometimes our mind plays tricks on us) and I go back and forth between public accountability and private. It’s a fine line…the work involved with a check mark on a sheet of paper is so much less than writing a post or uploading a picture…the latter, I’ve learned in the past, will derail me faster than the thing I’m trying to document. And yet having those around you support and cheer you on…it’s important. Anyway…the biggest thing I’m striving for in this process is not necessarily showing I can do something every single day…instead I’m striving for the compassion and kindness to myself when missing a day. Because that will happen…it’s delusional to live my life and think it won’t. And honestly, I’m proud of myself to looking at these challenges that way.

    I also wanted to share that I started doing savasana some during the month of December along with you. I had gotten out of that practice because of my back…and well, honestly that pose is intimidating to me. I find it (as do others), very difficult to do ‘correctly’. My mind races, I relax one portion of my body only to shift awareness to another and it immediately tenses back up. I practiced it which is progress but I struggled with it. A few days ago though, I finally joined yogaglo and did the back to back practices you recommended (we can chat about those later)…but by the end, my body was grateful to drop into savasana and with just a few cues from the instructor, I finally feel like I conquered the pose. Briefly for sure, but there it was. And maybe, that’s the first time? Was it because my body was tired so I could sink into it more easily? Or, as I suspect, being on the mat always results in a better emotional state…was this heightened state of focus after doing almost 2 hours on the mat the reason? Is the reason why important here? I documented it because I wanted to remember that it’s attainable even though I may not hit the ‘sweet spot’ again for months. All this to say, thank you for sharing and documenting publicly. And thank you for reminding me how important that particular pose is.

    1. Thank you for being here Rachel, and for sharing your experience – it adds so much depth to the topic when it’s an actual conversation :)

      Savasana is intimidating to so many of us – I’ve generally not been bothered by it in the past, but this was absolutely part of why I’d been struggling with it through the fall – as big of a reason as my schedule. I have had a lot to process, and when I get still, a lot of those thoughts come to the surface grasping for my attention. It’s so challenging to (try) to observe my thoughts and stories without buying in or getting carried away – to keep coming back to my body, and also, why it’s so important. I salute you for recognizing that compassion and kindness are crucial practices here – and I’m practicing them right along with you.

      Yes, (you already know this, I am just affirming) if you found yourself dropping in, you will find your way back there again and it gets easier – although there will always be times when it just doesn’t come easily ;) You know what it feels like now, remember that sensation and see if you can call it up in your body from time. I’m glad my public sharing was of some use and thank you for practicing, for working this along with me.

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