That thing you don’t want to do?
Because there is a secret hidden in there.
I’ve just returned from a four-day retreat. Really, it was a training, but because it was immersive and residential, and because we were there to steep in the practice and learning of Yin Yoga and Yoga Nidra (as part of a larger Yoga training), it was truly a retreat for my body, mind, and heart.
It also gave me the experience of balance in my system that I have not felt in a long time. It is about this experience of balance, how we unconsciously resist it and how essential it is for our well-being and thus our productivity and contribution to ourself and others, that I am going to write here.
I’ve been aware for awhile that I have been out of balance in myself. If you can picture the body divided into thirds from top to bottom, with the top third being the upper chest up through the head, the middle third being chest to top of pelvis, and the lower third being pelvis down, I have been living (energetically speaking) way too much in my head. The imbalance here has shown up as worry, interrupted sleep, and rumination. It’s as if the “air” of my thinking has become so dominant that the imbalance is pathological to my system as a whole.
The middle third of the body holds more of the fire that powers us. My furnace has been pretty strong lately, neither excessive nor lacking.
What has been neglected has been the lower third — the literal grounding of my body, and energetically, the container for the thoughts. If you can picture a helium balloon at a child’s birthday party, with a decorative weight tied at the end of the string to keep the balloon from floating up and away, that is the grounding I am describing in the overall energy balance in my system. It was missing. Gone. Gonzo.
What’s interesting to note is that while I have known that I NEEDED to do something to ground myself, I was RESISTING it with everything I had. And if you know me, you know this about me: If I don’t want to do it, I’m not going to do it. Wild horses cannot make me do it. My will is too great, and I am stubborn. Thus, just knowing in my head what I needed to do was not enough to make me overcome my intertia and resistance and actually DO it.
So, what are some examples of what I need to do to ground myself? (And that I’ve known for, like, a really long time?)
- Create a daily routine…ahead of time, not on the fly.
- A morning meditation practice of 10-20 minutes.
- A daily asana practice and other planned physical activity.
- Big picture planning, including the singular goal I am working on and the project management for it.
Can you see how each of these items have this quality of containing the “air” of my thoughts and bringing them into a structure of both my body, through the asana/movement and meditation practices, and form through planned action?
So, as I said, I’ve KNOWN what I need to do, and I have RESISTED doing it. You’d think it was a bear trap (weird analogy, I know, but we watched a movie at home last night and there was this bear trap…). I have been dancing around it, jumpy from my own self-imposed avoidance, fearing that thing as if it were a trap to ensnare me.
Want to know what we did this weekend?
- Morning meditation
- Daily asana
- And we had a daily schedule.
The Yoga that we did was a particular form of Yoga called Yin that grounds the body and energy in a very different way than an “up-energy” vinyasa (strong and flowing) practice. So while I bet that even if the weekend had been vinyasa practice, I would have still grounded into my body, the “heaviness” of the Yin practice was a corrective that my system desperately needed.
I don’t know about you, but when I learn something in my body, experientially, I LEARN it. It’s very different than learning through the mind, as a concept. The experience is what brings it into being for me.
And you know when you finally turn towards that thing you’ve been resisting, and you just embrace it? Whether it’s a thought, or a fear, or a behavior or action…how turning towards it and embracing it, making friends with it, creates unexpected space in your life?
Yeah, that’s the gift, isn’t it?
Learning in my body how essential it is for me to ground through these practices even if I don’t want to, and doing them even if I don’t want to, gives me so much bandwidth. Because now, instead of spending all that energy thinking about the thing I should be doing that I don’t want to do, I’m just…doing it. And I am doing it because of how I feel after: grounded, intentional, in balance.
The lesson here isn’t that everyone should be doing Yin yoga and a few minutes of meditation every day (although I hiiiiighly recommend both for any typical Westerner living in a body ;-). The lesson here is that thing you are most resisting:
Turn towards it.
The resistance is telling you something. Find out what.
The only thing you have to lose is your current level of discomfort. Is it worth it?
Lots of love,