As a holistic wellness advocate, yogi, and general bliss seeker, stress management and prevention are quite high on my priority list. Why is it, then, that I have found myself utterly plagued by stress this past week? The question I pose to myself is more rhetorical, because the answers are quite obvious…I’ve been given short notice to move out of the house in which I’ve been living for three years; I’m in a yoga teacher training program that specifically advises against uprooting oneself during this 6-month span of time, namely moving, changing jobs and ending relationships; I’m swamped between work, homework and my time training at the studio; I don’t want to relocate temporarily, I want to find something semi-permanent that I could call home for the next year or two; I have been frustrated with my knee pain and have now developed hamstring pain, as of yesterday; I’m worried about money; I want to be able to practice and not hurt myself; I want to rid my life of obsessive behavior; I could go on and on…so the question is rhetorical in that I have the answer. What I’m really asking is why have I found myself plagued by stress when I know the antidote to stress? I’m asking myself why I’m continuing to perpetuate my anxiety by refusing to engage in stress relieving activities, instead choosing to keep pushing myself mentally and physically, which only results in further pain, stress and injury? I’m asking why I chose to hammer out nine reasons why I’m stressed rather than ten reasons I’m grateful? I’m asking why I choose to succumb to stress, negativity and anxiety rather than implementing the tried and true practices I spend everyday artfully cultivating for times of uncertainty exactly like these?
I’m asking why it’s so easy for me to be this damn hard on myself?
Truth: I have spent the past week ridden with anxiety. Save for moments of clarity, moments when I breathe deep and have faith and believe with my every fibre that this is all happening as it’s meant to, I’ve been knee-deep in the muck of worry. I’ve been sighing at the clicking of my knees, I’ve been wishing on stars that they will heal and I’ll never again suffer an RSI at my own hands. I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night and first thing in the morning with my mind darting immediately to what I have to do that day, to what I “should” do that day, to what I obsessively am going to try and push myself to do.
Truth: My obsessive nature is putting a damper on my yoga practice. During this stressful time I’ve begun to abuse my practice, rather than use it to my aide. I’ve begun obsessing over pushing myself to attend the harder classes, obsessing all day long over whether I’ll make it, or feel up to it, and obsessing over it if I don’t go. I’ve been struggling to take the rest days that, before teacher training, were coming so easy to me.
Truth: I’m afraid. I’m afraid that if I don’t practice for a few days or even a week that I won’t be a true yogi (even typing those words makes me feel ridiculous). I’m afraid that if I back off and let my body heal I’ll get out of shape, I’ll suddenly get fat (even more ridiculous). I’m judgmental of the fact that other people seem to practice in advanced classes every week and don’t injure themselves. I’m afraid that I won’t find the right place to live in time. I’m afraid that I’ll pick a place too quickly and I’ll miss out on the right opportunity (hopefully the law of attraction is skipping me on this round). I’m afraid that I sound obsessive and superficial and needy and stupid. I’m afraid that the wonderful people I spent this evening with were irritated by my stress ball presence. I’m afraid that I’m not making the right decisions. I’m afraid because I don’t know whether I want to pursue my 300-hour yoga training or my holistic nutrition consultant certification next. I’m afraid. So afraid.
Fear is a plague. It shackles itself around the ankles and it turns bliss to dust. Fear is loud and sickening and it settles on hope, smothering it like thick, dark ash.
It sucks making all these confessions, because it makes me feel like I’m a fraud. I’m all about the manifestation of what we want to see happen in our lives. I am a firm believer in the law of attraction, in thinking positively rather than negatively. I believe that what we think, what we focus on, what we dedicate energy to, we become. I believe that to my core. While it’s satisfying to get that all off my chest, now that I’ve done so, I really need to let it go. Let it go. That’s always easier said than done but, in nearly every case, it’s what needs to be done.
By being afraid that my physical aches and weaknesses will never go away I am only manifesting their presence. By being afraid I won’t find the perfect place to live, I am steering myself no closer to the serendipitous discovery of that perfect, just-for-me home. By being afraid of how annoying I might be to my friends I am stressing myself further and then verbalizing the stress, making myself less enjoyable to be around.
I’ll tell you what, I’m sick and tired of being afraid.
I’m sick and tired of abusing my mind and my body due to fear and stress. I’m tired of knowing what it is I ought to be thinking, doing and feeling, but choosing to think, do and feel something else. I know how to practice yoga so as to suit my body for its particular needs that day, and I know that taking more rest than usual is necessary while in this teacher training. I know that doing so will only result in a more dedicated practice, happier adrenals and a more relaxed mind body connection. I know that by holding an image of the perfect home in my mind’s eye I will draw that to me. I will find the right place by believing the right place is out there, just waiting for me. I know that comparing myself to others will do absolutely nothing to benefit my personal journey as a human being.
I know that by being flexible, more easygoing and trusting of my mind and body I will be manifesting a healthier version of myself than I thought possible.
So why is it so hard to do all that? Why is it so difficult to put all of that into practice? I can see the person i want to be, and yet I’m still struggling. It’s like my fear is a fence, a high picket fence with sharp points, and I’m trying to climb over. I know it’ll only hurt for a moment, if the pointy top pricks me, and it’s likely I’ll hoist myself over unscathed. But I’m afraid…I’m afraid it’ll hurt, or I’ll get stuck, or I’ll fall off…I’m afraid the sharp fence will break my skin, draw my blood, will leave a scab, and then a scar. I’m so afraid of all the “what if’s” that I end up too exhausted to even attempt the climb.
I don’t want to be too exhausted to attempt the climb. I want to climb over the fence of fear and onto the soft grass of trust, the forgiving soil of abundance, the warm sunny pool of peace.
These past seven days have been overflowing with fear, and today has been oozing self-deprication. I won’t stand for it. I simply won’t. I’ve felt dizzy with distrust in my own decisions, my own intuition and my own body signals. I haven’t been able to see the reason for it, until now. I’ve been blinded by stress. I’ve been comparing myself to others (a huge no no). I’ve forgotten that my yoga practice is my life, the harder practice is what occurs off the mat, the asana is the easy part (a much needed reminder I was given tonight).
Stress breeds illness. It exhausts our adrenals. It manifests nothing but more worry, more stress, more doubt.
Hope breeds joy. Peace and harmony grow from focused positive energy. Kindness, deep breaths and a heavy dose of lightheartedness are healing.
Truth: I have the power to heal myself. I have the gift of a dedicated yoga practice that I take with me everywhere I go, it is in everything I do. I trust that the Universe will deliver me healing, unveil to me the perfect home, and the next step I am meant to take, all in due time. Like seeds planted in that moist, fertile soil of abundance, they must be watered. I will water them with patience, with breath, with trust…I will water them, and then I will watch them grow.