05 June, 2014

Keeping things in perspective

Today was vinyasa home practice.

I missed two days in a row. As you know, I don't like to do that. I had told myself that I would find a way to squeeze the practice in, but it was just not realistic, given other priorities. I am still justifying it, even as I type this. It's funny, almost, how hard I am on myself. I flew to Boston on Tuesday, and I got to my Dad's around 8pm. I was tired from the flight and, of course, I wanted to spend time with him (and we ordered dinner together). I could have forced myself to do yoga that night, but I decided to just enjoy the time with him, and relax. Why I need to convince myself this is okay is beyond me. Then, the next day, I didn't get home from work until almost midnight. And I was dead tired, with only 6 hours of sleep. So, it would actually have been unhealthy to force myself to do yoga.

That brings us to today. Once again, I only got 5.5 hours of sleep, because I had a hard time sleeping. But I drew the line on myself missing days of yoga, and decided to practice anyway. It was about 40 minutes of yoga. I didn't do anything that would be risky or harmful to a body that is fatigued, but I did a reasonably good practice. The most notable thing was that my IT bands (I did "cow pose") were so incredibly tight. I don't know if that's from missing days, or from stress, or from sitting on an airplane, or all of the above. But it was surprising.

I can't say that I am entirely okay with what I still call "letting myself off the hook" for missing those days.

And that brings us to my other topic, off the mat, which is intimately related to this. The reason for my trip here was to run a study. And, as I mentioned previously, I have had a lot of stress and anxiety about whether it will go successfully, or if we won't be ready, or if I will fail. I put all of the burden on myself. Once I committed to doing this study, anything short of running a study with the exact plan we set out to do, and I would consider it a failure of myself and all. I drive toward hitting goals, and don't take excuses for not achieving them. Others around me are not so stringent. I had colleagues whom I was depending on who were not delivering what I needed when I needed it. I found myself wasting time trying to even explain to them what I needed from them, even though my feeling was that it should be their job to take ownership themselves of their part, and figure out what was needed. It was not outside the realm of possibilities for people to contribute this. But, as it turned out, I wasn't getting what I expected from others. My manager offered us the option to throw in the flag, and just let the pressure off. But I felt that there was no reason why we couldn't succeed, and that we absolutely, positively must go forward, finish the materials, and deliver exactly what we promised to deliver.

And we did.

On one hand, I could say to myself, "Maybe we didn't actually need to drive so hard for success? Maybe it would have been okay to do less, cancel, let ourselves off the hook?" I could also say to myself (on the middle road?) "Why worry so much, because maybe this is just the regular process of hitting deadlines, and all's well that ends well, and next time I will just know that things will be okay." And on the other hand, I could say "That was really a bullshit fucked up experience, that shouldn't have been so stilted, and shouldn't have required so much hemming and hawing and hand-holding, and we need to figure out what went wrong, so that next time, people do their jobs, and we are ready without such a circus of drama."

All of the above are "valid" options. And they all have their representation on the yoga mat. There's "Child's Pose." There's pushing through, and beating up our body, and forcing ourselves to do poses that maybe we really shouldn't be doing today. And there's the middle road, of being mindful, compassionate and receptive to what is actually happening in our bodies (or on our team, as it may be), and pushing or backing off as needed, all the while, remembering that this is just a practice, and trying to find the joy in the moments.

I find myself always taking the angle of "There's no excuse for failure." Which has two falsities in it. 1) that I am making excuses, and 2) that the opposite of whatever bar I am holding myself to would be "failure." I know where it came from (thanks, Mom, I love you), but I don't blame her. We are all taught a variety of things, and there comes a point where we must choose which ones we want to carry with us, and the ones we want to let go (give up what you must, right?).

I am becoming increasingly aware that I want to give this up - this fight within myself. I know the trade-off, and I see clearly the choices I have.

But it's still taking time.

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