When I was first diagnosed with Lupus, I gained an immediate and firm testimony that physical exercise would be the key to me living a healthy life. Through the years, I have had doctors confirm this time and again. As a result, I have maintained a pretty regular exercise routine in my life.
There have been THREE physical GOALS that I have had for several years:
1. A Yoga balance posture called SCORPION
2. Doing an unassisted PULL UP
3. Running a MARATHON
I first saw the yoga posture done by a teacher about 6 years ago. It is a posture that when you read about it or see it, it is usually associated with people who have practiced yoga for MANY, MANY YEARS! I looked longingly at people who could do scorpion BUT told myself all the reasons that I was not ready to attempt the posture. At the very beginning of January, I was trying to think of New Years resolutions for this year and realized that I had NEVER even attempted the posture. Instead of counting all of my weaknesses, I started counting all of the reasons that I WAS ready to TRY. At first, I didn’t expect perfection, I just expected to use what I had and give it a try… (more about that journey here)
Pull Up’s have been a different story. I have TRIED and TRIED, but just have never been able to do more than assisted pull ups. I have asked fitness buffs, read fitness books and worked out almost daily in an attempt to succeed. A few months ago, I started to work one on one with a personal trainer. He asked me to make some goals and I told him that pull ups had always eluded me. For six weeks we worked together 4 days a week and NOT once did we attempt a pull up. We did all sorts of exercises but not one pull up. His goal was to strengthen the muscles needed for success rather than to keep having me try and fail… (more about that journey here)
As for the marathon, I have done a few 5K’s, signed up for running groups, and even signed up for marathons. The trouble is, no matter how much I love the CONCEPT of running a marathon, I have one huge physical obstacle that makes running almost a complete failure from the first step. As I have talked to a dear friend who is a chronic marathon runner, and shared this kind of personal and intimate little detail, she has made a few suggestions that would help me succeed. This friend has all the tools, knowledge, and experience to lead me to success- I can take her advice, but her know how is all she can do to help me… I cannot run with her because she is far beyond my abilities at this time.
After a few attempts at scorpion, I realized that there was ONE really simple change to my technique that would help me stay balanced. Once I figured out this slight body modification, scorpion has become a regular part of my practice- but had I not kept trying, I would not have ever figured out how to succeed…
Though I had searched and tried for years, I needed someone to walk right next to me as I strengthened myself for pull-ups. On the first day that Daniel said I was ready for pull ups, I got ONE in on my first set and on set 2, I couldn’t get up. Daniel was ready to count ONE as my success and try again in a few weeks after I’d gained more strength.
As for running a marathon… It just isn’t in my cards right now to do it the way my friend does. It has nothing to do with her being better or me being weak, it simply requires more to invest than I currently have to offer. But as I release some of my own pride, my friend has helped me see other goals related to running a marathon that I CAN complete. To accomplish this goal I will need to be flexible with my approach, realistic about my resources, and patient with my shortcomings… Hopefully a few years from now, I’ll be back up here to report that I’ve completed the Santa Barbara marathon with a personal best
There is so much about this crazy little thing called life that can be intimidating, overwhelming and just plain beyond our reach. My intention is not to argue the value or costs associated with social media, but it is very easy to find ourselves comparing and contrasting one person’s “best” with our, ummm, not so best! In practicing yoga, on and off the mat, Svadhyaya is the concept of ‘self-study’. I have come to realize that being flexible, realistic, and patient is absolutely critical to svadhyaya. When we allow ourselves time to meditate in pure self-study, we open the possibility to travel through our past, gathering nuggets of wisdom that can enhance our present. I believe this wisdom, when filtered through our hearts with pure self-love, will open up to unveil who we are and what we truly seek for in this life. As the desires of our hearts are unveiled, quiet meditation opens up the very core of who we are meant to become.
I believe that like my physical fitness goals, we can be active and engaged in our lives, doing a lot of the right things, but unless we establish an active practice of svadhyaya; set some spiritual, physical and emotional goals and start working towards them, we really can’t reach our full potential. Like physical fitness, our entire mortal experience is a conversion in progress. The lessons I learned in my physical goals apply to our svadhyaya as well.
* You have to show up- to the gym, to the beach, to your life
* No one can do it for you- we can be guided, directed, or led… but in the end, the work can only be done by us
* We have to be flexible and realistic, taking into our account the here and now limitations we may face
* Failure is imminent, but ONLY you can decide when to quit or take a step back
Just like I can’t stop going to the gym today and expect to still do push ups, scorpion or run a 5K a year from now. It is so important to keep searching, ask questions, find help and when all else fails… TRY AGAIN and DON’T GIVE UP! It is so important in svadhyaya that we remember that asking questions is not a sign of weakness but a sign that we are ready for more knowledge and experience. Having doubts is our spirit’s way of searching for deeper truth and knowledge.
Svadhyaya is as critical to our emotional and spiritual well-being as physical exercise is to our bodies. I know this, not because I read it somewhere, but because I have put it to the test time and TIME again. We can go through the motions or we can set out on a self-discovery journey, uncovering the good, the bad and the beautiful with the purpose of love and acceptance.
My challenge to you is to find ONE thing you want to understand… just ONE. Now take that ONE thing and go into the next week with the intention to seek and find! I promise, with all that I am, that you will find an answer in such abundance that you’ll have no choice but to share your new strength with others.
Balance & Beauty to YOU and YOURS