I was teaching a private class recently to someone who feels trapped in her own body, frustrated with not knowing how to free herself. This is a feeling I remember only too well: the frustration of wanting the change to to be already complete, rather than starting out on a journey that seemed never-ending. She asked me how I coped with it and her question started me thinking.
Below is part of an email I sent her, which I’ve decided to share with a wider community in the hopes that it resonates with someone else out there that’s frustrated with being on the journey rather than at the destination. This doesn’t simply apply to yoga practice, I think it can be applied to pretty much anything in life that’s worth doing. For me the acceptance I speak of rings as true for learning Programming in C++ or learning to play the guitar as it does for developing my yoga practice… when feeling disheartened, focus on how far you’ve come, not on how far there is yet to go.
You asked me how I cope with wanting to be better now and having my body refuse me… one thing that’s developed in the past few years is that I’ve stopped fighting my body and I now accept that I have issues with stiffness and inflexibility and occasional discomfort.
When I think back to the severe pain I was once in, and my near-complete inability to move or release any muscle at will, I can’t deny the progress I’ve made. I can accept the state my body is in now, because I know it’s getting better and won’t stay this way. I know I have some control and am gaining more and more control each time I practice – even those times where I feel like I’m worse than I’ve ever been, as these have always proven to be temporary, minor setbacks, so I try not to dwell on the bad days. They come, they go. Easier said than done, especially in the early days when progress can be slow, but the more times setbacks happen and you recover and even improve, the more you realise that bad days don’t mean you’re not making overall progress. This has helped me accept that I’m on the road to improvement, rather than getting caught in the headspace of feeling like I’ll never get there.
Don’t know if that helps of not, but I thought worth mentioning. A few years ago I was almost ready to throw in the towel, not do any exercises and just depend on crutches for the rest of my life. It seemed easier in the moment, but I’m glad now that I pushed through 🙂