Yoga for that mental thing you’re trying to get under control
I’m writing this post for any and all who are trying to overcome their own selves.
(Yes, I’m aware that was not a grammatically correct sentence. This is a private yoga blog, not the New York Times.)
First things first: you are the only one who can tell what you are feeling. Whether or not you are struggling. Whether or not the habits and routines and people in your life are actually helping you or not. So as you read this, please use your intelligent if somewhat stressed and over-taxed brain to determine whether or not these sentences are true for YOU.
I’m seeing ailment all around me. Anxiety. Depression. Panic attacks. Lethargy. Feeling strangely disconnected from… maybe you don’t even know what. Perhaps I’m seeing this more because now I’m teaching yoga. Maybe its because this time last year I was in my own pit of depression, and I’m grateful that one year later I’m effectively on the other side of the wheel.
In my opinion, the biggest misconception about mental health is that you can’t help yourself. You need doctors and expensive medications to fix you. And when those don’t really work or you don’t like the way they feel, then you’re a lost, broken cause. You feel like no one gets it. No one sympathizes. No one wants to help, and even if they did want to, they can’t.
Well that sucks. And it doesn’t seem to be working. Shall we try something different? I know, different is scary. It’s not familiar. It’s probably not comfortable. But is it comfortable where you are?
(By the by, you’ve heard of the placebo effect? Why does it work? Because we believe we’re taking something that is helping us. We believe.)
THIS MIND SHIT AIN’T NO HIPPIE JOKE, PEOPLE. I digress.
We know that moving our bodies is good for us. We know that breathing is good for us. Often the problem that gets added to that health salad is the demon spice: trying to do too much. Causing more injury (mental or physical) than good.
The hardest thing – especially when you’re going through something hard – is that it’s going to be hard for a little while. You have to be willing to stick with your own progress, and you might have to change your expectations as to how much progress will be made. And you HAVE to be willing to start with something easy and build from there.
And this is why my guiding word for the year is SMALL.
And, preaching what I teach, I’m not actually doing it for you guys. If you want to hop on board and help yourself, by all means. But I’m doing this for me. To remind myself that if I want to grow, I have to first be willing to be small. And I might need to be small for a while, until I gain the strength to grow bigger. And no, I’m not patting myself on the back for figuring this out and suddenly all my problems are gone. Some days I kick myself when I realize that for days or weeks on end my expectations have been unrealistic. And then I remind myself to NOT kick myself, and to go smaller… start with being grateful that I figured OUT that I need to go smaller. And then do a small thing. A breath. A bath. One minute of breathing with my eyes closed. Laying on my tired back and just… laying there. Damn, that feels good, maybe I’ll stay a while. Maybe I WILL get my ass out of bed and go to my colleague’s yoga class. And maybe I won’t because what I really need is to chill out alone for a morning.
This is my process. I don’t know yours, and I can’t. I’m not you. But we DO know that the person who will make the biggest difference in your life – in the way you feel – is you. You have to want to help yourself. You have to believe that you can try. It’s that simple. And its amazing how challenging simple is because the people in our lives have all kinds of opinions that have clouded it. Pretty much, we’re just a bunch of humans running around in life, trying.
Try: it starts by doing something small and celebrating your tiny ass step.