Shoreham beach on a windy summer day

For the past year I’ve been on one hell of a voyage of self-discovery. Sounds like a total cliche, doesn’t it?! It’s true though.

I used to love archaeology when I was little (still watch Time Team now!), and getting up close with myself has been a bit like an archeological dig. Ana Forrest often uses the term ‘get fascinated with yourself’ when she’s teaching. And in my yoga practice I have, and boy have I had some amazing epiphanies. I don’t mind sharing a few … maybe they’ll resonate with you…

1) Perfection

Yep, it’s a problem. I always want to be perfect at everything, so realising that you CAN’T be perfect at everything all the time AND that it DOESN’T matter was a tough pill to swallow. Discovered that little nugget at my yoga teacher training. I’m totally still working on that one, but OMG, it’s chilled me out no end. I’ve totally still got high standards, but I’m learning to love the perfectly imperfect me! When I catch myself being critical of the perfectly imperfect me, I don’t beat myself up anymore, I congratulate myself for noticing how nasty I’m being and treat myself instead, to a foot rub or something. It’s a little bit like training a puppy!

2) Sometimes I try too hard!

There I was in my yoga practice, striving for perfection (there’s that word again!) in a pose when Ana Forrest came over to me “don’t try so hard, Charlotte”. Pow – there was another revelation. It hit me like a juggernaut… It’s true that how you are on the mat is how you are off the mat, and she saw it. Since that day, I’ve been processing her comment, like a google search through my memory bank. I’ve always tried hard — no wonder I get so exhausted… to change that, I have to be more chilled out and maybe not try so hard – Simple, right? Not exactly, but I think I’m doing OK. I’m finding a balance between being driven, motivated and conscientious without the intensity and eternal craziness that was going on before.

3) I shouldn’t hold back…

From fun, from feelings, from the truth. I have the best fun in my yoga practice when I give it my 100% attention and when I’m not holding back or clinging on to a pose for dear life. If I’ve got music on and I want to sing (or dance) I should, if I’m feeling tense in my practice — usually in the neck area — get right in there to work on relaxing an calming that. This translates easily into my life. Although I’ve always been true to myself in the corporate world, going against the grain is blo*dy tiring! So instead of trying to shoehorn myself into something that doesn’t necessarily fit, I’ve been speaking frankly – truthfully. That’s been met by surprise sometimes, but at least there’s no illusion, no supposition, no misunderstanding. Over the past couple of months I’ve had brave conversations that I never would have had before and done things that I wouldn’t have had the courage to do. It feels sooooo good! And you know what?!… if I spot something that touches me or see that others are making strides, I’m less afraid to tell them how great they’re doing. Not in a cheesy way, but from the heart. Everybody wins then! – I don’t feel like I’m holding in something that I want to share and the person on the receiving end gets a warm fuzzy feeling.

4) Last one, I promise…. I don’t have to hold the world together with my right hip, neck and shoulders!

I can’t tell you how much more conscious I am about what I fear, since I started practicing yoga. I’ve always had the sense that I’ve had to hold everything together for the people around me and the companies that I’ve worked for. Whether I HAD to in reality or not doesn’t really matter — I just know that it’s something I’ve always done.

Am I frightened that things will go wrong if I’m not in control? That everything will fall apart? That I’ll be letting people down? That people will respect me less if I don’t take control of the situation?… There’s probably a bit of truth in all of those and this fear of letting go totally manifests itself in my body — in my right hip, neck and shoulders. I’m getting better at not reverting back to old patterns in my practice or reinjuring myself by being conscious and literally training different muscles not to be lazy. It’s not dissimilar off the mat. You’ve just got to get used to doing things a different way. That’s not to say, I’m not there for my friends and family and I’ve suddenly turned into a rubbish business woman — no — I’m just finding ways to be supportive, or get things done without suffocating myself in the process…D*mn it’s tough though! The best thing ever in this situation is to breath long feeling breaths, oh yes…

Lightbulb moment

Maybe some of those things sound familiar, or maybe I’m being all ‘California hippy circa 1968’, but all I can say is, figuring out why I react the way I do to certain things and why I get miserable, for example, really helps me to not get miserable, be less stressed and generally feel better. All of my traits, quirks and habits come from somewhere and it’s fun to find them, say ‘ahhh OK, cool’ and move on. It’s up to you to love them and keep them, or love them and kick them to the kerb.

I’ve been reading a lot of books as part of my on-going yoga training. Many focus on appreciating yourself for who you are and acknowledging your life’s roller coaster. Some have been about getting over abuse, listening to your instinct, even nutritionally equipping your body. They’re really all saying the same thing: Learn from your experiences, they’re what make you who you are and you can either look back at them painfully, torturing yourself, or you can get curious and make them serve you. Who knows — your good and bad times may have made you strong, inquisitive, shown you how to express emotion, highlighted the type of person you don’t want to be, maybe even shown you how to love — whatever the experiences are — they’re all very much part of the great and beautiful mystery that is you. 🙂
 
Advertisements