18 February, 2015

Writing for myself

Today was hotel yoga.

I decided yesterday to stop posting my blogs publicly.

That means I am writing this for myself. I am hesitant about it. I am hesitant about what to write here, because if I take it in a truly personal direction, then I am committing to either staying private, editing content, or deleting the entries that cannot be shared publicly. It makes me uneasy. And I am not sure why, because it's not like there's some massive readership that I am betraying. It's more like, "If I stop publishing this to the world, then the commitment is only to myself, and then what does it mean if I keep it up?" And it also means that I am shifting away from writing as a means of receiving validation.

So what am I going to do...

Well, a little more about the thoughts around closing it down, before I move forward. I feel this need to explain myself to people. I feel like, "Oh, I owe someone an explanation for why I have decided not to publish it anymore." But I don't owe anyone anything. There was something that came up a few weeks ago in a conversation with someone. Anna, maybe. The point was that I don't need to explain myself. I can just make decisions and not explain them. I have always felt like I need to explain everything.

But I don't.

And it helps that I am not presently using Facebook because I would have already been posting about the fact that I am not writing the blog publicly and why I am not, etc.

The knowledge that much of the supposed readership of my blog is probably robots makes it a little less disappointing to stop.

OK. But here I am. Starting to do this. Now.

Today was hotel yoga.

I was looking forward, somewhat, to doing the practice today, and was committed to doing a good practice. It's been a difficult few days. I have experienced an immense amount of stress and anxiety about this first study that I am running for my new team. I have always gone through this emotionality around important things at work, becoming moody, anxious, etc. But this time, it felt even more major because I am working on a topic that is important, and I am taking over for a researcher who is extremely highly regarded, and my friend whom I want to impress, or at least not disappoint. So I have felt this pressure. But I guess it's been lurking just below the surface, and coming out as sadness, disconnection, existentialism, etc. It's not to say that I don't or won't experience those things periodically anyway, especially considering that my life will always have these (or may always have these) periods where I experience stress. But I really turned it in on myself and then it impacted my relationship too.

It affected my practice, I believe, in the manner of impacting my balance. For the past several days, I had shit for balance. Today, after having run my first 2 sessions, and everything went well, my balance was much better. Balance may be a useful barometer for me to measure something about my state. Of course, sometimes my balance may just be off because my legs are tired. So there's that.

I don't know why I continue to experience such stress every time there's a new milestone, when I repeatedly meet the occasion with the necessary effort. And I don't disappoint people. But I do spend a lot of time explaining myself and my emotions, and that's probably the only weird part. I don't want to be difficult to work with. I don't want to be a freak. I don't want to be one of those people where others are thinking "If I have to listen to one more time of Bob talking about sometimes he feels this, or sometimes he feels that... why can't he just shut the fuck up and do his job?!"

These are the things I fear.

Among others.

16 February, 2015

Walking on the ceiling

Today was vinyasa with Tara.

When I was younger and I would go running or do intense workouts at the gym, I would often lie on the floor after the workout and stare blankly at the ceiling, in a state of euphoria from the exercise. At the gym I attended at the university, the ceiling was very high. It was easily 40 feet, perhaps even 60 feet from the floor. In that euphoric state, it was not unusual for me to imagine that I was walking on the ceiling, and the the world was upside-down. Alternatively, I might have imagined that the world was upside-down, but I was hanging by my back from the floor, which was now the ceiling. It was interesting to try to induce the psychological sense of "fear of heights" in that position.

Today, at the end of Tara's class, I found myself imagining walking on the billowy looking ceiling of the room. I'd come into class fairly agitated. I felt sad. She spoke about some things that were happening for her, in terms of experiencing stress or contraction in a situation, and how that situation becomes much bigger than it actually is. And I could totally relate to that. I don't know why I feel the sadness lately. It's not foreign to me. It's been off and on in my life for as long as I can remember. And it's not always brought on by tangible stimuli or events that I can identify. Right now, all is well. But I have gone through periods of existential angst, and periods of undefined sadness. The good news is that they're brief, and they tend to be interspersed with periods of hours or days where I am in a perfectly good state of mind. Case in point: I felt considerably better after this yoga class than I had felt before it.

I don't know any magic trick to not feel these feelings. Some people have told me "You want to feel that way." Is that true? Do I want it? I can't definitively say that I don't, but why would I? It may be true that I am compelled to go there.

I think I have a hard time just being where I am.

The yoga mat is a good place to work on that.

Tree was only a little better today than it was yesterday. And I was only a little less irritated with it. And I recognize that there's an opportunity to let go. Balance poses are a place where it's more difficult to appear composed. In any pose where you've got two feet on the ground, there's always a modification that can be done to achieve stability. Well, truth is, the same can be said for the balance poses. But for some reason, I must be less willing to take those modifications. What does that say? It would be kind of funny to go down the avenue that I don't believe, that of astrology, and say that because I am a Libra, balance is especially a point of pride for me, and that I have high standards.

But let's not go down the occult avenues just yet. Or else I may find myself walking on the ceiling.

15 February, 2015

Disharmony and ignorance

Today was vinyasa with Jodi.

It was a really tough class for me. I don't know why, since I think her classes are supposedly gentler, but they just don't seem it to me. My balance was way off, to the point that it felt like I was taking my first yoga class, and that I didn't even know what Tree is. And since I was in the front row, that even started some of the thoughts creeping into my head about how I must look. I didn't go too far with the thought but it was in there.

At the end of the class, she read something. It was about how all of the disharmony in the world is caused by ignorance. And the specific example was very illustrative, talking about how we might react to being bumped into by someone, and about how that reaction would change if we discovered that the person who bumped us is blind. It was a very literal example, and I started by imagining that situation and I felt a good deal of emotional pain thinking about it. And after class, I took it further, and realized that it was universally true, when taken to an abstract level. If someone treats us poorly, even if it's intentional (from our perspective), there is still this entire level of unknown about that person's life, their past, their day, their problems. We are ignorant of all these things that may be impacting their behavior, and we are presented with this choice of whether to react, or to have compassion. And it doesn't even matter if they're right or wrong. The choice is between harmony and disharmony. When we react, we create more disharmony. And we only get to choose how we act. We do not get to choose how others act.

It's a pretty big thought. It feels like a burden to have that awareness and the responsibility that comes with it.

And when one takes it even further, to understand why we have our own difficulties and failings... example: why I couldn't balance today... I may be ignorant as to why my balance is off, but I still get to choose whether to be mad at my body, or to be compassionate.

It seems like it's ingrained in me to react.

13 February, 2015

Flexibility is...

Today was vinyasa with Chelle.

I had a hard time in this class today. Chelle talked about flexibility. She proposed that "flexibility is saying yes to doing something when you want to say no." And I guess that really triggered me today, because I found myself battling inside about "Why is that what flexibility means?!" I felt like maybe for some people who are Type A, flexibility might be to go a little easy instead of pushing to the max. I felt like everyone has a different definition of what it means, and that why am I being asked, in the name of "flexibility," to do exactly what I am being asked to do...

But, as you can probably imagine, as time passed, only shortly after class, I realized that this may be true. But, in that case, perhaps for me, flexibility means "accepting that not everyone is going to have the same definition of flexibility as I do." And it also means that I have to choose whether to spiral out of control and become Mr. Defiance for the rest of the class (proving nothing to no one), or regain center, let it go, and keep practicing.

I often find myself dialing up the defiance channel in Chelle's class, and I am not sure why that is. But I also know that this is a great opportunity for me to explore it, rather than react and run away from it.

12 February, 2015

Novelty versus predictability

Today was vinyasa with Zak.

For the first few times I attended these classes, it all felt new, and I had no idea what was coming next. But as I've come a few more times, I now realize that a Level 1.5 Creative Flow will have a certain arc to the sequences, and a Level 2 Flow will have a particular series of things that will happen, with a few variations within that pattern. The classes are great, but once I know what's coming next, then it gets into that game of turning the mind off, so as not to overthink "What's coming next?"

I don't know what the metaphor is off the mat. I suppose it's that interactions or responsibilities in life that may be recurrent still should only be attended with presence in the moment as if it is the first time they've ever happened. For example, this is the first time that I will ever take this drive home from work, even though I've taken the same route every day. Instead I tend to find anything I can do to fill my mind and not need to think about this drive, since that's boring. Or tedious. And can't wait for it to be over.

I know so clearly how much more rich the life could be if I weren't spinning off into past, future, or other universes of possibility. And yet it remains something I have difficulty doing.

10 February, 2015

Out of sync

Today was vinyasa with Chelle.

Whereas yesterday everything was flowing, today I found myself feeling oppositional. The class had a lot of "play time" in it, and experimentation, and it was not what I was looking for. And I guess I felt like I was being difficult by not wanting to participate, but I'm just trying to not have my heel hurt more than it does already, and playing feels risky right now, even if maybe it really isn't. To top it off (making excuses, I know) I'm really tired. So I'm just trying to do a solid, but conservative yoga practice. And some days are just not that.

I could tell that my balance was not good, and it was one of those "bad tree days." Those kinds of days tend to really make me impatient with myself. Today, at least, i didn't spiral into anger at myself. When I couldn't stay in tree, I just had to disappointedly acknowledge, "This is the best I've got today."

09 February, 2015

Finally landing

Today was vinyasa with Tara.

It's taken me awhile to appreciate this class, because I was getting caught up in the little things that I didn't like. I'd recognized a list of the things that I did like, namely the message that she has in her flowing words, and pondering messages that come in a continuing stream throughout the class. But I had been unable to appreciate and release myself into just what it is. Instead, I'd been obsessing over the ways in which Tara is not Michel or Carley or Elizabeth or Zak. Those are teachers whom I've admired very various, but overlapping reasons, but who are radically different from Tara. And my insistence on holding the experience up to a different template caused me to be unable to appreciate what I did like in it.

Today I found myself ready, and I'm not even sure why. I shifted my perspective, perhaps? As I mentioned, I decided to move myself away from the front of the room, so as to not be seeing the little digital clock that had been vexing me in recent classes. Instead, I positioned myself in the far back corner. Maybe the shift in physical perspective enabled an openness to a different experience. I did find it was easier to hear her from the back of the room, since she does move around a lot. And it also happened that today's message was focused on the topic of "having enough" rather than "never having enough." This resonated with the existential angst that I've been battling of late. Because maybe the reason I am struggling is because I am obsessing over the lack of life that we're given, rather than the abundance. I'm not saying I'm going to become Mr. Positive overnight. But I recognize, and have certainly known, if not consciously embodied the reality that we define our experience by our perspective on it.

But I have been both struggling with these thoughts as well as shifting toward some new way, that hasn't yet emerged, but is percolating below the surface. The yoga, the practice, the guidance are all essential.

It felt good to find myself saying "I really like your classes."

08 February, 2015

Different versions of hard

Today was vinyasa with Michelle at Urban Yoga Spa.

It wasn't a very difficult class, but it felt very taxing, and it was because the humidity in the studio was near 100% and the temperature over 100 degrees. I can tell the difference between "the poses are killing me" versus "the environment is killing me" and still can't understand what the benefit is of the former. But I wanted to go to this class so I could have a 1 hour instead of a 90 minute. That may not be a great choice. I may need to just accept that this is not the place where I'll get what I came for. The letting go may be letting go of my 17 passes remaining, or gift them to somebody, because it makes no sense to keep eating from the all-you-can-eat buffet if I don't like the food.

06 February, 2015

Thanks for relative ease

Today was vinyasa with Chelle.

I was really sore, way more than usual, from the previous 2 days' classes with Zak. Wasn't even sure how I'd be able to move. This was probably due to having home practiced through several days prior with the studio being closed over the weekend. But Zak also had done a lot of unusual tough moves that got muscles moving that were not use to moving. So it was a pleasant and welcome relief that Chelle was very much on "easy mode," at least by her standards. We did a pretty standard Baptiste flow, but it was actually a bit abbreviated. I'd say that we transitioned into the balancing series about 10 minutes earlier than typically happens in a 75 minute class. The order of things was shuffled around a bit, but it was still bringing about the effect of relative ease.

It was a bit of a dramatic week, and I thought that the "off the mat" experiences might be relevant to mention. I talk a lot about how critical I am of myself here in this blog, but I mention less about how critical I can be of others. This week, at work, I ran into a situation where a colleague was doing things in a way that I felt was not "right." My concern was two-fold: first, I was being strict on the rigors of our domain. Second, I was concerned that my team might be perceived poorly because of her work. So I really voiced my opinion strongly. It turned out that others agreed with me, but the result was that I really ruffled her feathers, and I also instigated a drama festival. The reality is that the drama festival may not be my fault, but I was still in a position where I possess the "intelligence, discernment, and clarity" to make a choice that would mitigate drama rather than promote it. But my triggers were squeezed, and I couldn't resist.

I think I am far less prone to doing this brutal exactness at any costs than I used to be. But I wish I could find it in myself to be a uniter rather than a divider. If someone is having a hard time, or in conflict, could I find a way to improve things, or at least to minimize harm? I tend to decide to confront "big problems" through confrontation or through complete avoidance. That's not "The Middle Way."

It's difficult to do. And especially so because I am not sure I want to.

05 February, 2015

Harder but easier

Today was Level 2 vinyasa with Zak.

Yesterday's class was a Level 1.5 "Creative Flow" and today's was a Level 2. It's true that both were difficult, but I found today's to actually be a bit easier for me. Not sure why that was, but I would not rule out the possibility that my mind was quieter, and more present, so I wasn't fighting the time and the practice as much.

I'm a front-row person, but a week or so ago, I noticed that there's a digital clock near the front of the room that is pointing sideways across for the teacher to see. It's small, but from the front row, I can see it. It's distracting. And it's hard not to look at something when you know it's there. I don't like knowing how much time is left, because it starts my mind focusing on the counting. If I know it's 6:40 then I know there's only 20 minutes left and it spirals me into "expectation-thinking." So I think the solution will be that I may need to move away from the front row. It's probably a good idea to have different perspectives in the room than always the same spot.

Today's class did a lot of the mandala sequences, which I actually like, even though very long flows can be intimidating when you finish 10 minutes of one side, and know that it's all going to happen again on the other side. But they're interesting, and often (at least on the first side) unpredictable. I guess variety is interesting. But we knew that already.

04 February, 2015

Wandering mind

Today was vinyasa with Zak.

For the first half of class today, I really couldn't wait for it to be over. It was mainly because my mind was jumping ahead to wanting to be home. And there was a clear recognition of "Thinking like this is going to make 75 minutes seem like a really long time." That's what happens, but it's hard to stop it when it's happening. About 45-50 minutes into the class, my mind finally started to quiet down. By the end of class, I was finally ready for practice. Funny how that works.

It was a challenging class, with lots of really deep stuff, and some unusual poses. I tried to do most of it. Zak brings out the curiosity in the practice. But I do have my physical and mental limits. Trying to get closer to being governed by the physical ones, but it's important to make wise decisions about which is which.

02 February, 2015

Travel day yoga

Today was hone practice.

I've found a new place in the house to do the home practice. I'd love to do it in the basement, since there are fewer distractions, with not much down there, but the ceilings are too low. I'd been doing it in the bedroom, but that felt a little weird for some reason. Now it's the corner of the living room. There's not really a perfect place for it, but I've practiced in plenty of non-perfect places. The cat circled under me a few times, and tried to get on my legs during an upward dog. But that's okay.

About to travel this evening on a one-day trip.

01 February, 2015

Still a long way to go

Today was home practice.

Not much to say about the practice, but feeling frustrated that for all the practice I do, I'm still finding that peace, calm, happiness elude me. And it probably shouldn't surprise me, because much of me still believes I don't deserve them. The problem with not deserving them is that it means I don't allow them when they're available. Instead, my mind finds a way to be without peace, without calm, without happiness. The positive feelings come when I am not thinking about them. The moment. The only place to actually experience anything. Yet somehow I choose to dwell in past or future, coloring the moment from whatever palette of negativity is available.

There's a long way to go.