Monday, November 20, 2017

The advantage of the obstacles

I was pretty stressed out this week.  Some of the reasons were obvious, but there were also days I just felt gripped with an anxiety that I couldn't explain, that came seemingly out of nowhere.  In those times, it's almost always tempting to move away from meditation, yoga, writing - things that will actually help me - and toward zoning out, numbing behavior, reloading my Instagram feed 40 times, or never having a moment of quiet.  The breakthrough comes - for me, at least - when you ignore the immediate desire to just space out and get numb and distracted and actually pay deep attention to the problem, to the stress, even to the anxiety that seems to have absolutely no logical reason behind it.  Sometimes that involves talking really honestly about it, sometimes that involves doing some gentle yoga and going to bed early.

I did the latter on Friday night with my favorite PM practice that I know I've shared on here before, but I can't share it enough times.  I've done it off and on for over nine years now (!) and it still does the trick.

It wasn't until I did this practice for the 4,000th time that it really hammered home how I ought to be putting a deeper focus and attention on my negative emotions.  Jason Crandell says several different versions of this in his practice, that the obstacles - the tight hips or the really intense physical sensations - give us something to direct our breath toward and give us an opportunity to pay deep attention.  In that sense, the restriction or the obstacle, he says, becomes a big asset to the practice.

It's the same in life.  If we don't struggle, we don't grow.  If we don't fail, we don't learn.  If everything is easy all the time, life gets incredibly boring and void of any sense of satisfaction of achievement.

So, in this most joyful and most stressful time of the year, make sure you're taking time to get quiet and reflective and restorative.  And do this class before bed.

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