I go to my weekly yoga class to get stronger, heal injuries, improve my balance, chill the F out, and get out of my head. I’ve been surprised that it’s also where I practice being kind to myself.
I’m pretty hard on myself, I know that much. But on my mat, I’m concentrating on good form or holding plank pose; I don’t have time for my mind to wander. I just count. I often fail at a pose that the rest of the room can do, but my good teacher reminds us to not go there, and I listen. I just notice my tight hips. I go gentle with my old back injury.
My yoga mat is where I don’t compare myself to others—despite the fact that there are some pretty pretzels in the room. This is progress, people! I compare myself to others all the time—it’s a bad habit and a source of much of my suffering—but not in yoga class.
I see them—the other writers—on Facebook and in press releases, cashing in their prize money, smiling at their huge mailing lists and Twitter crowds. I know they’re rising at 6am and writing effortlessly until they go do their perfect lives. They rough me up, these writers in my head.
What pulled me back from the doom today was remembering who I was on the mat this morning. That Me-Not-Comparing...she’s just doing her thing despite Miss Rubber Band in front of me, or the elegant older woman in the corner. Me-Not-Comparing sees them but doesn’t get hooked. I don’t know why, I don’t try to figure it out. But they land as possibilities for me, guideposts not measuring sticks.
On the yoga mat, I get a glimpse of a different part of myself. She’s not tangled up in striving and comparison—she’s got some space, a thin teal rectangle, to practice a different way to be.
What if I greeted the blank page like my yoga mat? A place to practice, paying attention only to what I’m doing at the moment, stretching and curious, doing just a short regular routine, focused and forgiving?
I’m gonna see how this goes.
What could your blank page become? An early spring plot to your Gardener Self? A new city to your Traveler Self?