Why don’t you try being human
At this time of year, I get very tired, my energy gets low and I feel like I just can’t get enough get up and go. In the past, I have always resisted against this and tried to achieve things anyway. This year, however, I just did a day retreat together with the lovely Yoga with Varrie who is a seasonal yoga teacher and she did a talk about the Winter Season and what our natural inclinations are at this time. I am not saying that I had never read about this or thought about this before, but this year, for the first time, I am really listening to my own instincts to slow down.
God forbid, I said no to a meet up with someone and instead went home and did a restorative yoga session and a 45 minute yoga nidra. What’s more, I managed to overcome the feelings of guilt for not doing something more ‘productive’ and for having the time and space to do this when others don’t. For around 4 days, my yoga practice mostly consisted of legs up against the wall and some gentle yin.
I am working on letting go of the belief that I am only worthy if I get enough things achieved. I have to always stay true to my word and reach goals and targets and follow through on things I have agreed to do (even small, silly social things). I won’t go all the way into all the reasons why my fragile, exhausted mind has developed all of these coping mechanisms, but let’s just say I know why, and I do a lot of work through yoga, Buddhism and personal development to try and rewire these unhelpful belief systems.
Of course, just at the right time, this talk about How to Love Yourself by Ram Dass came up as a suggestion on Youtube, which was just exactly what I was thinking – Being a human participating in this life is enough. I am here, I am showing up where I found myself, I can see how I show up, I care how I show up, and when I get it wrong, I try to learn from it and I acknowledge it’s part of my experience.
“I realized that the way to truth might be through acknowledging the fullness of where I found myself to be, which was my humanity and my divinity. (and) Not wallow in it but acknowledge it and not reverence it or judge it, just appreciate it, just allow it.” -Ram Dass
I like the way Ram Dass describes this – you might prefer to say that you allow yourself, you appreciate your life rather than go all out and say you love yourself if you are not ready to do that yet.
Most people as Ram says are ‘socialised’ to have very negative feelings about themselves because of the ideals we measure ourselves and others against, and the feeling that there is something wrong with us if we don’t measure up to these ideals. “You get caught living in a judging realm.”
And when you do begin to practice some form of spirituality (whatever that may be to you) you still manage to put expectations on yourself to always be existing in a state of peace – or always giving that impression.
As a yoga teacher, I feel it is very important that the space I hold for others to practise yoga is a safe, comfortable, peaceful environment. I put a lot of work in to make sure that by the time I turn up that’s what you get. So it may appear to some of the people coming to my classes that I am always this way (simply because that is their only experience of me) but of course, I am not – nor would it be healthy at all if I pretended to be this way all of the time. As Ram says, it means you can never properly connect to other people.
Thank you to all of you who have mentioned that you have been reading my blogs and appreciate them. I have also had people say things like, “Wow it’s very brave of you to share such personal things.” Maybe it is, but I feel it’s important not to give the impression that everything is just hunky dory all the time – because then that will perpetuate a myth that there is a state of permanent happiness that you should be working towards and you will never feel content until you reach that stage. I have peace of mind often – it comes from acceptance of what and who I am – I feel it most when I am on my own. But I still have anxieties, worries, and insecurities about myself at times – also mostly when I am on my own lol. The thing is, I accept that this is my human experience. Whatever the reasons why or how or what happens afterwards, being human is what is happening right now. And I just want to make the most of that experience.
So this Winter, for the first time in years, I am just going to go with whatever it is I really feel like doing and I not feel guilty about it.
Maybe it will be going to bed early, doing a really gentle yoga class, just lying listening to music for half an hour, taking photos, making a wreath, reading a good book, taking a long shower, or going for a walk. This might mean putting off the shopping, washing, hoovering, writing cards, or doing a budget and marketing plan for next year. The time will come to get these things done and when the feeling comes, I will take the action.
Or maybe it will simply mean doing the things, but just going way more slowly. Taking more time with things, breathing more slowly, and using muscles with more gentleness. The length it has taken me to write this short piece is a testament to that. That’s what we will be doing in class over the next few weeks. We’ll move through familiar postures, but we’ll just go slow.
The thing is, when you go permit yourself to go slow, you may just notice and appreciate things that seem normal, but are actually full of wonder.
Carlo gave me a loan of his Canon camera and on a couple of very long, slow walks, I took some pictures. These simple, everyday things in nature remind me how wondrous the world is and how incredible it is to be a human being who can appreciate the beauty of it.
For my yoga classes in Ayrshire and online - go to www.vhairislavenyoga.com/book.