Sunday, May 11, 2008

Day 36: Forgiveness and Other Pesky Challenges

As most of you know, I have been having a fairly good experience here at teacher training. My body has held up in terms of strength; no sickness (though I awoke with a sore throat today…ack!); I’m not exhausted (though a bit tired for sure); and even my uterus has been kind, dishing up fairly tolerable periods (if not surprisingly short and, er heavy). Mentally, I’ve been sticking with my “Pacing. Pacing. Pacing” mantra combined with “Be Here Now” – don’t bite off more than you can chew; be realistic about timeline requirements (i.e., it’s not necessary to stay up to all hours if I’m tired and have the next two postures prepared); and remember, everything is just a moment that will pass – so just be in the moment, and let it go. Sleep is good. Eating is (a little too) good. Poopin’ like a champ. I feel like a little toughie in this body these days!

I mentioned earlier that last weekend, I spent time thinking of how I could amp up this experience for myself. Where am I resting on my laurels? What is blocking me in life that I am not working on? What can I do here to impact those bigger things? I came up with a few things small things first - like cutting back a little on how much I’ve been eating here, realizing that I’m not suffering and likely don’t need so much food (don’t worry, I’m still packing it in! I just removed 1 piece of peanut butter toast, and guacamole most days). I added the longer savasanas which have, as I wrote about, been really powerful.

And then, I thought, beyond the physical and mental parts are the deeper emotional and spiritual pieces of the pie. In many ways, these are my most uncharted waters, particularly the spiritual perspective. It’s a part of me I’ve always feared – definitely a fear of my own “unknown.” I’m feeling ready to look honestly at the things that are holding me back at this point in my life. For so long, it was my weight, which lead to the self-loathing that I talked about recently. I feel like that is now a 'known-issue,' and will just keep getting better and better overall with occasional backslides. I have an understanding of it, and I don’t feel this holds me back in any consistent or significant way at this point. Further, I realized, I can no longer use hating myself as an excuse not to better myself.

So, “Now what?” I asked myself. My mind (er, heart?) answered with one word: Forgiveness.

It was on my mind the other day when Christian and I had a chat about forgiveness. He said, “Why don’t you just forgive?” I answered, “I’m just not ready to. I want to, but I can’t.” His retort, “Why not? Just decide to. Just forgive. Decide.” I argued, “No, no, no, it’s just not that easy.” He came right back and said, “Yeah, it is that easy.” Hm…. So I went off to think about that.

For me, it’s always seemed that forgiveness is a process, rather than a decision. To decide to forgive would be like “deciding” to be in love, or to be angry, or to be depressed. These are things, I’ve always felt, that simply just are… I’ve always argued that certain feelings are not a choice but rather a path you are supposed to walk to get to the other side. You just don’t get to decide.

Then, a conversation popped in my head – a friend and I had talked last summer about our lifelong “serial monogamy” in the context of our current mid-30-something relationships. She said, “At some point, your being and staying in love, and in a long-term relationship, is a choice.” I thought about it for a while, and ultimately agreed. I mean, we all could hunt down someone else, I suppose, but we opt not to. At first, being in love almost feels like there is not choice – like a tidal wave that overcomes you; but soon the waters calm and you’re sometimes tired (treading water) or comfortable/happy (feet touching solid ground) and occasionally hanging on for dear life (rough waters). But you choose to stay in. It’s a choice, really, to be there.

So I relate the two like this: Forgiveness is both a journey and a decision. One thing I often have used as an analogy is the idea that many of life’s bigger struggles are like a mountain you have to climb (forgiveness, in this case). But it’s out in the distance, beyond a great tundra that you have yet to cross – it’s so far away. Of course I can’t climb that mountain, even though I know I want to and will simply have to…but, too bad, I’m just not to the base of it yet. So there.

However…if I’m honest, the part I can easily decide is the rate at which I opt to move toward this goal. I’m a kid that would stop and eat snow and be late to school. Or completely miss a movie or something because I stopped to chat with someone at the grocery store. Generally I am never late; but I will often find distractions – particularly when the destination is less than, shall we say, palatable.

So the part of this that is a decision I have made is this: A committed vigilance to getting on with it – getting to the top of my mountain of forgiveness. I still don’t see “insta-forgiveness” as an option for me, but I can see getting it done this way. Pacing, as usual, is my method. Anything hard has a payoff or none of us would every do anything hard! Freedom from anger, resentment, hurt and disillusionment seems a nice paycheck for my efforts. I expect the climb will be filled with other people (a few in particular) – I realize I’ve held onto - and liked having - a (false) sense of power in situations where I didn’t have any power and they did. I’ve been working on this all week and it’s amazing how far you get just by trying (Hi, Yoga, I know you follow this rule too: Just try the right way to get 100% of the benefit).

One specific person I expect to face before I hit the top is yours truly – there are a few things I’ve done that I’ve not made complete peace with; I know that as I move through the process of forgiving myself, forgiveness of others will be easier and easier. And that is not who I want to be in this lifetime. So, while giving up peanut butter toast at lunch, a blop of guacamole, and taking longer savasanas will indeed streamline my experience here, working through some mega-forgiveness while adopting an new attitude toward it going forward feels like something that I can put on my “life-changing events at teacher training” list.

Today's Pics: Sunday! No yoga today; Girls being silly at the pool; My Sunday "drink"; the hotel; my polish change (Todd and Jill (via Skype) said my new color was boring); and me before heading out to dinner; dinner at Linda Vista again - not as good as last time, but nice view! A crowd in the lobby including Alyssa, the current world yoga champ = l to r, Karen, Cecelia, Kim, Aurelie, Tony, Alyssa, Arno.


Carola said...

Good morning, and may I just say, you are right on! Seems like you are truly getting into the roots of your Self, which is what yoga really is about, moving through all our self added crap to consciously arrive at the place you have been waiting on yourself to arrive all along, a place requiring no baggage, physical, emotional/mental. everything truly is just a moment that will pass...
Thanks for sharing! and on and on we go~

ps. not sure, but maybe you will meet my teacher down there. She is there for a week or so with her husband (also teacher) form merritt island florida...suzanne and joe elliot! i just received an emailfrom her from there...says she told Bikram about me, or rather that she's got another victim coming to him in the fall, so if it wasnt definate before, it certianly is now! :)

Unlearning Convention said...

Hi, Jenn! I'm a Bikram yoga teacher originally from Manila and now in Houston. Marshall came from our studio (Mike's and Joani's) and I think Mike should be there with y'all now. Anyway, someone sent me the link to your blog early on and let me say it is great to read about TT from your blog and relive training vicariously through you. This entry, however, especially resonates within me. I too have a lot of self-loathing going on. I am not of a twig-type body, and people are divided about it but mostly supportive. I have yet to support myself. So there. Thank you for the positivism. Take care and have a great rest of TT!