Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.org
I can’t complain about my life right now. My depression is being treated with the medications I take and I’m becoming a spectator in much of what can bring me down through my own ruminations and self-defeating thoughts. Suggestions from the book, Living with Your Heart Wide Open, are helping me practice being “AWARE” — allow, witness, acknowledge, release and ease up. These are simple words that pack a lot of power.
My body has been fighting an infection since last week. I’ve been low on energy and not as productive as I would like. I couldn’t take being sedentary any longer and I went to a group exercise class, even though I knew I was not feeling well. During the exercise class my body would not perform to my expectations. I literally fell over with a balancing pose and I opted out of much of the strength training, preferring to lie on my yoga mat in Child’s Pose. I was so pathetic that my inner critic berated me.
I felt the weakness in my body and then I witnessed my thoughts belittle my effort. I heard: Try harder. Be stronger. Listen better. You are the only one not doing the exercises. You are different. You are inferior. Stop being weak.
I wanted to cry right there on my yoga mat because I wasn’t living up to my own sense of who I should be.
Then, growth unfolded.
I wiped my brow with a soft hand towel I’d brought with me, took a few sips from my water bottle – all while others where vigorously doing Sun Salutations, Warrior Poses and leg lunges – and curled back into child’s pose. I offered myself compassionate thoughts: Its okay. You are sick. Your body is fighting an infection. You most likely have a fever. Don’t judge yourself by others. Do only what you are capable of. Eventually I joined the class in Downward Dog, modified the difficult poses and went on to enjoy the restorative exercises.
I was fully present in my body when the class ended. I recognized my illness and gave myself compassion for my suffering as I never have before. My history would have had me hating myself and ruminating about how horrible I acted in front of others. Typically those feelings follow me home and, when there’s too much of them, I eventually spiral down into a pit of despair.
Not this time. I offered self-love, compassion and mindfulness. This capacity to be AWARE is completely new to me because in my childhood there was no focus on how I felt. I take pride in my emerging ability to acknowledge and ease up on myself. I like the feeling of responding to my needs and being kind to my inner self.
P.S. My doctor prescribed an antibiotic so I should be healthier for next weeks exercise class!