I’ve neglected yoga for most of the past week. Not that I was doing all that much, just a mild morning ten minutes, but even that was making a difference to my flexibility and my morning mood. But then being back at work caught up with me and even ten minutes felt like too much morning time to dedicate to anything other than more sleep or bleary staring at the state of the world through the Internet’s window.
I had no such excuse come the weekend, but the habit of laziness had become re-ingrained at that point and I was all “ah sure whatever” and it didn’t happen. Because, of course, things don’t just happen. A person needs to decide to do them, to make them happen. So it’s not that it didn’t happen. I chose not to do it. And, as seems to have become rather common for me of late, I hid the very choice of it from myself so that I could rest in the comforting bewilderment of a universe that “just happens” to me.
I’m not super impressed with that. What kind of life is that to live. No wonder I’ve been feeling so panicked and anxious.
Anyway, I spent the weekend running and my joints very kindly reminded me of my previous decisions around yoga and lack of practice (or frankly any kind of stretching or post-running bodily care). My aching knees were like a car alarm blaring into the night; I couldn’t escape the pain, but it became with time a sort of familiar background noise. My back started doing that odd twingey nerve pain that I internally think of as a threatened slipped disc, but only from G.’s description of the pain he felt with his own herniated disc a few years back. I guess it’s really just mild sciatica of some kind, but I hear it (wisely enough I think) as a claxon horn, warning of the worst of things that could happen to a middle-aged body: back problems.
And so I was back on the yoga mat this morning, if only for ten minutes of mild stretching, it was also ten minutes of time taken for myself, for presence and self-care, and that’s an important space to start to form in my life. I could really do with prioritising it.
When I was done and feeling slightly more awake, I moved myself to the kitchen for the morning coffee ritual which never seems to slide by the wayside, and if anything seeps out into the rest of my day and drinking habits in a way that I’m not entirely pleased with. And it occurred to me: until things get to a crisis point, I will not change.
Oh, I’ll talk a decent enough game on here with my types words and philosophies of awareness, attention, gradual change, habit forming and all the rest – but until the effects of my habitual decisions are causing me actual pain – not just mild discomfort or disappointment – I will continue along the same ingrained path. I might see the lights of the inescapable train in the distance, but until I feel the heat of the engines upon me, until I’m facing down actual life-destroying, physical or mental harm – I won’t jump off the bloody tracks.
What the hell, self?
Anyway, my ten-minute yoga stretch video has a teeny part of it right at the beginning where I’m asked to set my intention (preferably using a single word) for the day both on and off the mat. I’ve mostly gone for “awareness” and that kind of thing, but today I chose determination. I find it hard to maintain a determination to change outside of the presence of crisis, but that’s what I’m going for: determination to shift my being to a whole ‘nother set of tracks. And even if they’re not the right ones, they’ll at least not be the path to sure and certain destruction.
Things may not look so bad from where I’m walking right now. Well, that’s the whole train miles in the distance thing, isn’t it? But I particularly have my sugar usage in mind and the long term health effects that I’m setting myself up for if I continue this way. I don’t think change is going to be quick or easy, but I do think it’s really really necessary. It just maybe doesn’t feel as immediately scary as maybe it should.
But I know that train is actually approaching fast.