Monday, June 21, 2010

Losing Minds

One of the most profound things a Yoga asana practice has taught me and is still continuing to teach me is that the times you think you can't, you have never been more right. It's the same thing runners/marathoners attest to - you are only as good as you think. If you let the mind take control, you are limiting yourself in many ways because the mind, in its limited capacity, can only perceive, process, and comprehend what it can finitely hold. The mind cannot grasp infiniteness.

But who says it's up to the mind all the time? True presence is felt when the thinking mind with its judgments and expectations is not at the helm anymore and we just be. I think it's interesting how people refer to extraordinary and unforgettable life experiences as "mind-blowing". The intensity and aliveness of such experiences are incomprehensible that words fail to describe them. I remember having a conversation with a complete stranger about exactly this and he said, "Well, that's how we want the mind to be – blown." Could this be the secret of true presence?

But there is hope. Our minds are pliable once we take command of them. A year ago, I never would have imagined I would be doing sirsasanas (headstands). It just ain’t happenin’. It took guidance from a few teachers, letting go of a ton of fear, lots of practice, and mindful mindlessness. A couple of months from when I started, I did it – I stood on my head. Now I’m advancing to learning vrischikasana (scorpion/forearm stand) which I still cannot do without a wall, but I'm learning that perhaps, impossibility is a mental myth.

This weekend, I over-indulged on a mini-smorgasbord of pushing limits, doing the opposite of what my mind would typically direct me to do. It took two years for me to finally say yes to playing Ultimate Frisbee with a friend, Griz. I grew up restricted from playing intense sports because of asthma so although there is nothing I enjoy more than being outdoors on early summer mornings, the fear of running has kept me from playing. Well, I finally mustered chutzpah to play this weekend, ready to sprint or not. I survived a 12-mile hike with a 1500 ft. elevation gain before, so maybe I can do this, too.

I was feeling pretty good at the start of the game, but I imagine that’s how marathoners feel in the first few miles. I do not remember ever running so hard and furious in my life before. My legs actually loved the movement, but my lungs were letting out colorful expletives at me the entire time. They felt like they were going to burst. It’s hard battling with the mind because it’s so used to winning all the time. I caved to a couple of breaks, which meant that Amanda from the opposing team was allowed to run amuck and wide open, but those were the times when my own mental pep talks failed me. I scored one goal, though, made a few catches and some attempts at difficult ones, so overall, I think it wasn’t bad for a first time. It’s good that I will have a break from disc for a couple of weeks since that will buy me time to train myself to run and work on my endurance. I’m not signing up for league any time soon, but I don’t think it’s premature to invest in cleats.

Granted that I am suffering from soreness in places that I never thought I’d ever be sore (including the fleshy part of my right palm, between the thumb and index finger), I’m glad I did it because, well, there is nothing I enjoy more than being outdoors on early summer mornings. I had to let out a scream in the shower while I bent to shave my legs yesterday because of sharp hamstring and glute pain, and I woke up a few times to cramps last night. So I just keep telling myself, just as I did in the game, to suck it up and quit being a girl. I already run like one, and I should not do myself too much disservice by whining like one. Besides, I probably deserved that because when they advised hydration, I’m sure they didn’t mean with Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio (it was the Reno Wine Walk and I’ve never done that before either, so I said another yes, okay? Oh. And did I mention how this day ended at 2AM after watching a punk rock live act perform? At this point, I literally have already lost my mind. Seriously, punk rock?!?).

And while some people would have stayed home all lathered up in Bengay all day to recoup, I went out on a movie date with someone my mind would never have allowed me to consider going out with before. But I was already on a roll pushing my limits all weekend, so why not say yes again?

I hobbled through today but I seek refuge from the statement familiar to yogis, “I am not this body. I am not this mind.”

Okay, beautiful people. I’m off to the Reno Rodeo, another “Why not?”!!!

How I crack myself up sometimes.

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