A Cherokee elder was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me… it is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, hatefulness, and lies. The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, humbleness, kindness, friendship, generosity, faith, and truth. This same fight is going on inside of you, and inside every other person, too.” The children thought about it for a minute. Then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The Cherokee elder replied… “The one you feed.”
We are what we repeatedly tell ourselves. It’s interesting to scratch below the surface of our behaviours, thoughts and feelings as we experience them, and it is a fast, daunting realisation to come to acknowledge that they are all inextricably connected. One of the best things to do, to plough through an unexpectedly bad mood, is to act how I wish to feel.
Yoga has been interesting for me this week – maybe because I only went twice in the week prior, I feel like I’ve stripped away another layer of why I’m there. It’s taken six weeks for me to come to terms with the self hatred of the past my hips seem to hold. Initially the pain of holding poses was practically too much to bear, mainly because I couldn’t believe what my body was holding onto. It’s so humbling to realise the power of our minds over our entire being. I’m experiencing my fears of failure at the very edge of my physical self. As I said, it’s taken six weeks for me to meet my self-sabotaging thought patterns head on, and now I come out from poses and feel light.
We are what we repeatedly tell ourselves.
Experiencing an unpleasant emotion as a result of a physical stimulus that I myself am putting myself through, is a tangible realisation of the power I have over my self. My mind remains full of chatter, and yet it’s getting easier to brush it away and actually feel the feeling, connect it to why it’s unpleasant (I suppose conventional wisdom and even common sense would explain my tight glutes by years of running, but I know there is a deeper reason as to why I find it so hard to let go here) … and then realise that it is only my reality if I want it to be.
In my mind, in class, it ends up being a bit like:
This doesn’t feel nice, it’s because it’s reminding me of things about me I wish I didn’t know, I’m breathing through both of these things because someone is telling me to let go of my stories, “what stories? I can’t even hear the stories, this hurts I have lots of things to do today”… and then I breathe a little more and suddenly some hideous self-realisation comes to me in the form of red fire, and it usually starts with “You Used To Hate Yourself.”
I’ve spent years telling myself I’m not enough in so many ways, and as self-destructive as that may be, I’ve maintained, but not always enjoyed, a high functioning lifestyle. Negativity can only fuel a fire for so long. Yoga has helped me face up to the things I want to believe about myself in order that I can change (I’m fat, worthless, no fun to be around, etc.) – in the most personally impersonal of ways. Despite the fact holding each yoga posture involves a deep connection to yourself- could there be anything more “me time” than closing your eyes and being highly uncomfortably still?
I’m getting to know my old thought patterns as if they are abstractly connected to my pelvis. Somehow having them result from a body part that isn’t my brain reacting to a stimulus, makes them feel less real. Breathing through the edges of the physical gives me the time to realise that I can breathe through the bits I don’t like about myself, too. It is so much easier to acknowledge hateful thinking for what it is, and then brush it away like scrap paper on a desk (this is my mental image I used in meditation to “clear away the clutter”) than to overanalyse it beyond being something I don’t need to hold onto.
The first thing I felt was the “you can be your best self” mantra I had tucked away
The best bit about all this emotional exploration? The more I breathe, the more I let go of, and the more room there is for the good stuff. I got into swan tonight and the first thing I felt was the “you can be your best self” mantra I had tucked away there weeks ago. It adds up, and my benefits of yin are ever cumulative. Downward facing dog is no longer simply overwhelming relief, but rather a flood of realisation that I can be as strong as I choose.