Many of us are really good at getting stuff done, being able to plow through difficulties to achieve whatever we need to achieve. It’s astounding really, what we can get through, no?
And yet, often, the areas that we most want to change—for many of us, that’s how the body moves, feels and looks—elude us. Why is that?
I used to have much more energy, both in my personal life and my practice, for a kind of storm-the-gates mentality. As in, if I’m feeling tight and want to join a yoga class, there’s no way I’m doing any kind of modification. I’m not here to back down. I’m here to do this (and get my $12 worth)!
Same with running. I would jump into a long barefoot run after not running for months, and take my intense, even debilitating, soreness the next days as just a bitter pill, served with a dash of bravado, I swallowed to be in shape.
I would discount any kind of “ease into it” advice as something they told old people to help them feel better about not being able to get into the real thing.
Turns out … (you saw this coming, right?) … while that kind of bravado can of course be really fun and even useful sometimes, easing into something, or riding the edge of what’s comfortable instead of blasting through it, is a way, way better metaphor for most of us, most of the time.
I mean to suggest this is a very real and physiological truth of our bodies: that we are literally better served most of the time by “leaning” into our edges of movement instead of storming their gates. We’ll get better faster, and it will stick around more permanently because we won’t have gone blindly through the stuck parts of the process; we will have found our own way through.
The edge shows up as
- the decision to go for a walk after dinner, or to plunk down and watch TV
- the yoga pose that seems oddly emotional when you get into it, as you gently maintain the position of your joints away in that good, albeit nauseatingly intense, alignment
- the clumsiness and shakiness of learning new movements and neuromotor progressions
- the deep feeling of the desire to change, almost embedded in your cells, and the thought of “okay sure, but not today, not today …”
Find your edge—or, rather, it will find you pretty readily if you’re willing—and just … lean … into it.
Still shaking? Awesome. Keep leaning in; and then, when you’re done, rest.
You’re not getting anywhere to get somewhere; you’re moving for the sake of movement.