Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Reality checking

These strange, occasionally lonely, days remind me of an absent auntie who suddenly notices her 'baby' nephew is a six-foot tall teenager. So, I’m now two weeks into this new life ("gosh you've grown, how time flies" etc.) which means the days are rapidly becoming weeks; and like our gawky teenager I'm finding my routine is starting to find its own slightly awkward, socially reclusive, but nonetheless not-too-disastrous shape.

Err err err err errr.. That's my 5.30am alarm (it's got a very urgent, insistent sound) and then I’m up and off; either to practice with my teacher Sam (Mondays and Fridays) or to teach a private class on Wednesdays; and a group class Thursdays (although the Thursday class has managed to attract a bit fat zero number of students so far, hence my gawky awkwardness…) When I get home I spend a few hours online, looking for opportunities, openings, it often feels like I’m having a mini-brainstorm with Google, and then I might check in on Facebook, Yahoo, BBC news. After that I’ll start thinking of some ideas for this blog. In the afternoon I’ll run some errands, arrange to catch up with a friend, or fellow yogi folks, or possibly an ex-colleague for a coffee... Networking! Then I’ll pop to Coles or Harris Farm to pick up some food for the evening, some veggies, cereal, a loaf of bread and a pot of your finest organically grown guilt.

Now, I’ve never really questioned my own productivity before. For the last 10 years or so I’ve sat obediently at a desk, in an office. I’ve worked hard, sometimes late, and met deadlines tighter than Wonder Woman's shorts. I’ve had my fair share of office down time too: surfing the net, shopping, emailing friends, knocking off at 5.30 on the dot. But by and large my time was accounted for, my productivity justified. I commuted, I worked full time. I was in an office. What more do you want?

But now things are different. I am facing a whole host of other challenges. Should I be doing more, but what, and then how to motivate myself to do more? My slippery mind starts to cook up ideas like a frenzied chef who starts one meal, then moves onto the next without finishing the first. Maybe I should get involved with some volunteering projects, work for a charity, something worthwhile. My inner voice pesters me, a nagging niggle in my ear "this is a such waste, what are you doing?" 31 years of having the "time is precious, use it wisely" mantra hammered into my head by my folks, has taken its toll. Of course there are risks, moments of amazing self-belief, rudely interrupted by a wave of utter loss and defeat, and I haven’t even started yet. Then I find myself thinking “I’ll just go back to the 9 to 5, work in an office, find a nice little job in marketing and get my normal life back thank you very much.”

I remind myself: I gave up the marketing career with the sexy Surry Hills office to be able to give something back to people. I wanted to be a yoga teacher and to share this amazing yoga thing with people; this practice that has baffled my natural inclination to cynicism (‘it’s just stretching, how boring is that?’) and has somehow kicked and screamed it's way into my life, and made everything brighter.

One of the aspects of the yoga texts I found most difficult to understand was their thoughts on goals. As your average middle class girly living in middle England I was taught to aim high, reach for the sky. Mediocrity was not an option and goals were rewarded; all the better if you actually hit them - whether it's getting that A in Geography or bringing the school rounders team to victory (which I did incidently, still one of those amazing life-defining moments!) Now yoga doesn't say we shouldn't have goals, but it does say we shouldn't get too cosy with them. One of the goals of yoga (yes I know that might seem paradoxical) is to get yourself to a place that challenges you. For most people this is achieved fairly quickly on the yoga mat, as many of the postures present immense challenges. So bendy girl over there might have no problems getting her leg behind her head, but she's not doing yoga until she's struggling (at least a little bit). It's here, (reaching for the cup on the third shelf and not necessarily the sky!) where we learn; it's here where we come to accept ourselves as we are, because if we push ourselves too far we fall.

Purple (Valley) bruising. A reminder from Goa, India on why I shouldn't push myself too hard!

Now it's starting to happen. I realise now that off my yoga mat, right here in front on my Mac, this is yoga. I am learning, and struggling now. I am out of my comfort zone and here is where the journey begins. Goals are great, but I need to accept where I am (santosha), to learn from what's happening in my day to day; to pause and just be.

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