At the end of my last post, I said that last night's class was probably going to be difficult.
"Difficult" does not even begin to describe it.
Instead of describing each posture in gruesome detail (at least, the postures I actually attempted), I wanted to relate some of what was going on in my head during class.
Pranayama: My right elbow never seems to get quite as high. Man, do my shoulders hurt.
Awkward: Wow, I actually stood on my tiptoes and held it... Why am I now falling out of the third part?
Eagle: Not too bad (first set)...
What the hell happened in 45 seconds that I can't do this? (second set)
Standing Head to Knee: OK, so what if EVERYONE else is kicking out... It's ok. So what if you can't even grab a foot or lock a knee tonight. It's ok...
Standing Bow: This is not going to end well. (I am having trouble with balance and I can't really even START the posture.) Oh, great EVERYONE is in the posture. They look awesome. And here I am standing up, head down, hoping a hole opens up in the floor and swallows me.
Balancing Stick (my knee buckles as I step forward): Please don't give up. PLEASE DONT GIVE UP! I give up.
Standing Separate Leg: Don't give in!! Don't! DO NOT GIVE IN!!! I crumple to the floor. MOTHERFUCKER I SAID DON'T DO THAT!!! I hit the floor and there I stay.
Triangle: Don't even bother trying. The instructor tries to coax those of us not doing the posture into trying the second set. I ignore her.
The monkey mind has won. Yoga has become secondary. My brain and my body are arguing with each other and nothing is getting done. I sit out until Savasana then give a half-hearted effort in Wind Removing that the instructor calls me out by name: "I know you can do this, Mark. Pull harder." I do not.
I am pretty much done from then on. I spend the remainder of class on my back wondering why the rest of the class has the fortitude and strength to press on while I simply quit time after time. I then think about how this same issue presents itself outside the room: while others advance or move on to bigger and hopefully better things, I have stayed in the same place doing the same things for almost three full decades.
In both cases, fear.
Fear of falling out of postures. Fear that I will never be able to grab my heels or kick my leg out or hold a posture. Fear of how I look. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of ridicule. Fear of losing what little I have. Fear of dying.
Fear of living.
I give up too easily -- sometimes without any fight at all.
Instead of practicing acceptance and mindfulness and compassion for oneself, I berate, chastise, and loathe myself.
I keep trying to convince myself that I belong in that room. That I can change my body, my mind, and my life.
I keep trying to convince myself that I matter. That I've actually got the cojones to make this happen.
As I complete this post it is 4AM on Sunday morning. Storms are rolling through. Rain pours down as lightning races through the clouds and I wonder what today will bring.
Will I accept and embrace what comes, or push it away?
Exactly what would happen if I let go of the fear -- just for a moment?