For example, one day you don’t feel like going to the workout class that you ALWAYS go to. Your body says no. What do you do?
Do you push through or do you listen to your body? How do you know the right answer?
Do you doubt your body? “If I go I will feel better.” Maybe for one day or one class, you give in. Do you feel guilty about that or empowered? But what happens if you don’t feel like going at all anymore? What do you do? Do you still give in or do you sit in guilt and frustration?
I used a workout class as an example, but this applies to literally everything in life! The food you eat, the exercise you do, the way you spend your time, your relationships, where you live, what you do, WHO YOU ARE.
From our breath, to the sunrise and sunset, our sleep, thoughts, days, months, years and lifetimes. We cycle with nature, each other, the moon and stars. Yet we feel the need to commit to a routine, find the RIGHT eating plan, and be disciplined, diligent and unwavering in our commitments to those choices. How much routine is too much? Do we have to have forever commitment to exercise, diet and doing things "right"?
I stopped working out for 3 months. I just stopped. This happened in January, after I stopped teaching Bowstring. I had been a teacher for 5 years, and it was actually required that I work out. Don't get me wrong, I love the practice... but it was not an option to skip it. Being a teacher meant I also had to be a practitioner. The decision was not mine.
When I stopped teaching so did my desire to practice. At first I was ridden with guilt... "but I told them I'd be on my mat!" THIS WAS MY LIFE. For 5 years I identified with this movement and took pride in the diligence it took to be both a teacher and practitioner. I wanted to want to go, to show up, to prove that I could keep my word. Yet it didn't happen. The resistance was too strong. But so was the pain of not going - the guilt, anxiety, self-judgement, embarrassment. I felt like a failure.
I made a commitment to myself that I would not go to class until I felt INSPIRED. I went all in and decided my body knew what was right. My body and mind needed a break and I was not going to let the decision come from a place of fear or guilt. HELL NO.
I took walks, stretched before bed... and waited to want to practice. When my ego told me it had been long enough, to just go to class, I checked in with my body. Was the inspiration there? When I told people this, even my very evolved Bowstring friends, they said “If I waited to feel inspired, I’d never work out.”
OK...OK. I get it. When we look at “inspiration” or “motivation” as we know it, sitting on the couch may sound more appealing than working out - especially in the midst of busy, full lives. Comfort and convenience, right?
What if you gave yourself time and space to be in that place - unmotivated or uninspired yet unwilling to FORCE your body to do anything? Do you think you’d eventually feel like moving? Would you crave the exercise? Ask yourself.
From my experience, we are very attached to doing and to the routines we create for ourselves. Trust me, I love a good routine. However, when the attachment to the routine FOR THE SAKE of the routine trumps body intuition, flexibility and openness to change, that’s when it becomes a crutch. The point of diminishing return.
Our bodies naturally want to cycle, to shift direction when the time is right. We cycle with nature all the time. Have you noticed that you naturally wake up earlier at certain times of the year? Or that you naturally crave warm hearty foods when it’s cold? Those are simple examples of body wisdom. When you resist this, you are ignoring your body’s natural cycle and flow. When you “give in” or listen, you are building a deeper relationship with your body and yourself. Your body knows.
Now, back to the workout example. Do you think you may naturally have times during the year when it's more beneficial to exercise? Are there times when you need more rest, to restore and slow down?
Do you make it mean you are lazy, unhealthy, or have no will power? How does that feel? Will you feel guilty, embarrassed, weak, and anxious about not going? Will you punish yourself? What do you gain from that?
What if you allowed your body to guide you, to lead you in the direction that is right for you, right now. What not going to the gym today just means that you are processing something deep, that you need more rest, that it’s time to be gentle with yourself?
What if you started to build your relationship with yourself. What if you TRUSTED in your own wisdom instead of looking externally? What if you entered each day knowing that you will be guided toward what is right for you, right now.
Sounds kind of fun, huh?
I have this mantra: Everything matters and nothing matters. It means that the small choices we make day to day actually shape our lives. The micro movements shape our bodies, the things we do all the time become a part of us. This can have profound effects on the trajectory of our lives. In that same vein, nothing really matters. You can skip a workout, eat a piece of chocolate, sleep in or go out late. Life goes on. It’s all a thread in the larger tapestry of life.
Trust that if you give your body time and space and listen deeply, you will be guided. Trust that you don’t have to control and worry about everything. Trust that you are being guided. Trust that you can cycle through phases in life and be OK. That you can stop working out completely and then come back to it. Trust in the timing of things.
Every cycle offers death and rebirth. From simple to complex, back to simple. The sooner we start flowing with the cycles of our lives, the more we will be able to become comfortable with them. As Jess Lively says, “let the humans have their human experience.”
What are you cycling through in life right now? Where can you let go, allow and trust? How is your body speaking to you, and are you willing to listen?
I wish you a beautiful day.