One Day I Will Rule the World

World Domination, Babies and Middle Eastern Dance

March 7, 2011

Be Okay With Where You Are

This weekend, during one of my two intense yoga sessions, I was listening to the instructor patter as we worked to get into poses and realizing how closely it mirrors the things I tell my friends when they’re trying to do something and they’re really blocked.

You know, “it doesn’t matter what it looks like, what matters is how this move feels to you. Don’t worry about what anyone on the outside sees, just focus on making this position feel right to you.”

And, “Put your heels on the floor. Maybe for you they don’t come right to the floor, but you keep moving in that direction and you remember that you are working with wherever you are at.”

And, “don’t force yourself until it hurts just to prove something. Know the difference between healthy discomfort and pain.”

And, “pain is communicating something to you. Don’t push through it, listen to what it’s telling you. But also, don’t run from it, sometimes you need to just stay and listen.”

I was trying to explain this to my aunt and I summarized part of my philosophy that I was finding in Yoga as, “before you can change yourself you have to be okay with where you are.”

“What if you can’t be okay with where you are?” she said.

I really do have this conversation with a lot of people. She’s not the first person to say that. And I usually back down or soften my words, because I empathize so much with why someone would feel like they can’t be okay with where they are. If where you are is excruciating, or even just terrifying, to say, “first I’m going to be okay with this,” feels like saying, “I’m going to resign myself.” Furthermore, often when we’re not okay with a situation, we’re looking at what others contribute to our misery, and we are strongly resistant to saying, “I’m okay with where I am,” when that seems to be saying, “I’m okay with people treating me badly.”

But I’ve given this a lot of thought today and I don’t think it’s fair or accurate to soften my words. Before you can change yourself, you have to be okay with where you are. If you want real change, then yes, you have to.

The thing is, when you feel really blocked about something, most of the block is you. If you’ve ever seen someone else wrestle with a bad situation, you know this. They’ll talk about how horrible the situation is, and then you’ll suggest the obvious only alternative to the situation and they’ll say, “But I can’t do that because…” whatever. The more you reason, they more they’ll resist. And when you stop pushing, they’ll still sit there resisting or they’ll find someone else to push so they can keep resisting. But if they’re in just the right place, when you say, “You’re right, those obstacles really are too much,” then they’ll start to find ways to get around them.

It’s like in yoga poses. Sometimes you are telling yourself that you just can’t go any further, that it hurts too much and your body just won’t do it, you will be reviewing all the circumstances that make this pose just too much for particularly you (I have that injury, I’ve always been tight there, I just don’t have the arm strength for this one). And then sometimes, you pause there, and instead of saying, “I must! But I can’t-” you say, “then here is where I am.” And after a few breaths, and not struggling, something releases and you realize you are just going to fold deeper into the pose.

Being okay with where you are doesn’t mean being resigned to being there. It doesn’t mean loving it or approving of it. It just means suspending judgment and being gentle with yourself. It means being okay with you being there. If you’re judging where you are, then you’re inherently judging yourself for being there. And that’s why you fight yourself so hard on why you can’t move forward- because you’re dying to have someone be compassionate about where you are. Because for whatever reason, we can’t move past a place until we’ve processed whatever kept us there.

Anyhow, where I was going with all this is just that I was going to quip that since yoga instructors seem to have got my emotional advice down to the science of patter, next time I’m talking with someone who’s feeling troubled and blocked about their life, I think I’ll just advise them to take yoga from a really good instructor.

Next post »

Leave a Reply