The Pursuit of Balance

I have an addictive personality. For the most part, I’ve either been lucky enough or strong enough not to get into anything too bad – gambling, heavy drugs, etc… even when I had an alcohol and/or soft drug ‘problem’ it still wasn’t ever as bad as it could have been.

Hip Hop Dance Class with Danny Davalos

My latest addiction? Exercise. After giving up my aforementioned vices1, I just can’t get enough. It all started because Marie was tweeting about the progress she had made after two weeks of working out; she got me a guest pass her gym and the rest is history. I have been trying all sorts of classes2 and I can feel myself getting stronger every week. I remember feeling this way a few years ago when I first started really loving biking around the city3, and thus beginning my foray into exercise – yes, for the first time in my life.

Now more than ever though, I’m glad I started my fitness journey with years of practising Yoga. After several days of beating my body up through all sorts of different work-outs, I end up with all sorts of kinks in all sorts of places. Yoga, especially hot yoga, gives me a way to massage and stretch all those aching muscles and still get some strength training in. Yesterday, I tried a version of Yoga that was a little harder than the kind I normally do.

I usually go to Moksha Yoga which is practised in a hot room, and you are meant to gracefully, purposefully and gently move in to every pose and hold each pose for a few breaths. This kind is by far my favourite for obvious reasons. The class yesterday, which was Ashtanga Yoga, had some similarities, and a lot of differences. The biggest difference that I really struggled with were the poses that had us contorting our bodies into all sorts of weird, limb-tangling positions. I thought I was flexible, and I am, but this is a whole other level. I’m kind of interested to try to see if I can practise to the point of completing all the poses one day though.

The instructor was talking to us in between his chanting-instructions4, telling us about how when you feel tension in those positions, you have to breathe into the spot to help release the tension that is there. Within reason, he said, that tension is your body’s signal to you that there is something that needs to be worked out. Sounds like it would add some balance to the intense workouts I put my body through the rest of the week.

It’s all about balance, after all. It’s all well and good to be “fit”, but what good is being fit if you can’t function on a day-to-day basis? I wish it were that easy to maintain balance with emotional and mental fitness though, but I’m working on that. Productive distractions5, focusing on work, and the awesome projects I get to be a part of all help but they aren’t always enough.

I have to remind my self constantly that balance isn’t about forgetting or getting rid of the bad. It’s all about learning how to leverage the bad to make the good even better. The bad highlight the good by contrast. I don’t think it’s ideal when the bad and the good are present in extremes, but for some people that’s just how things are. I’m still trying to figure out how to maintain balance with such heavy emotions tipping my scales on any given day, and I doubt I’ll ever have to stop trying. I just hope one day, I can be okay with continually having to try. I’m pretty sure that when that happens, I’ll find that peace I’ve been searching for.

Footnotes:
  1. ok I didn’t give up alcohol completely but trust me it’s a big change[]
  2. click on that link if you want to watch me at hip hop dance class this past Saturday[]
  3. and having semi-acrobatic sex with a partner who shall remain nameless[]
  4. which is another thing I need to get used to, the instructors at Moksha speak to us in English[]
  5. like podcasts and audio books, home projects and the like[]

Revelling in Quiet

When your mind races like mine does – like a broken record – you have to revel in the days when it takes a rest. I look inside myself and marvel at the absence of the giant knot in my stomach, take an enormous breath in as slow as I possibly can, filling in every nook and cranny of my being and exhale just as slow.

Most days I can use tools I’ve learned through books I’ve read and listened to, the yoga classes I’ve attended or meditation. And sometimes, there is nothing I can do but cry it out. Sometimes a 15 minute cry will last me weeks, and sometimes it only lasts some hours. I’m trying. I’m trying so hard to remain at peace at all times.

Maybe that’s part of the problem. I’m trying too hard.

I can’t write anymore today. My mind is quiet, and if I write anymore I’m worried it’ll run away from me again.

Zen in the wind

Something is working. My open invitation to Joy seems to have worked, though I still find myself experiencing more moments of melancholy more often than I’d like. I am working on finding the source, and either eliminating said source or attempting to amend the situation though – I wish I could say more than that, but it really isn’t something I’m willing to talk about here just yet.

IMG_5761There were many things I wanted to write about for this week but as I walked through the city during sunset after an epic 90 minute yoga class, listening to my latest audio book1… I couldn’t help but feel so full in my heart. It was the first 90 minute class I have been to since I started taking Yoga again after a two year hiatus. And as I sat in front of my computer, all I wanted to do was capture this feeling in words.

Truth be told, I didn’t even remember that it was a 90 minute class. It was not an easy class. We held each pose for at least two more breaths than usual, there were many options to take the stretch deeper with each pose; options that I took as often as I could. I came out of the class feeling so incredibly calm, and strong. My face couldn’t help but maintain a smile the entire walk home. I wanted to go for a run, but I still had to do laundry and make and eat dinner; and I wanted to go to be a good girl and go to bed early so I could wake up early and have a relaxed morning before work.

That class was the proof I needed that I am getting better; that my efforts are worthwhile; that I am getting closer to the me that I lost so many years ago. I’m not just revelling in the physical benefits that I am getting from Yoga either. I’ve learned some pretty bad behaviours in the last two years; behaviours that, when mixed with my highly emotional and passionate demeanour, only spell trouble for the life of zen and calm that I so crave. Yoga, and a few of my own exercises and practices are slowly but surely chipping away at these bad behaviours; and I can only hope the changes will last a lifetime since I’m doing them so mindfully this time around.

The rest of my evening was quiet and satisfying. What caused me to welcome the joyful cry that came to me after I devoured my dinner, was that it2 is within reach again. And that’s enough to make me feel full of zen and calm right there.

One day at a time. One moment a time. And for heaven’s sake, breathe.

What brings you peace?

Footnotes:
  1. I may or may not be addicted to audio books[]
  2. said life of zen and calm that I crave[]