Well, I took a serious hiatus. The reason? None, really. I was in a weird, non-blogging funk. But I became inspired this week by a workout coach I took class from at Tone House in Union Square.
This class, you guys, was just so very super intense. Non-stop cardio and strength training to a point of potential vomit and absolute tears. I mean, it was awesome and I recommend it highly if you want an extreme workout and I didn’t just scare you away.
So, several people left during the class.
By the end, I was at that weird point where I couldn’t really move my body. You know, when you are so physically exhausted that it feels like your muscles weigh a million pounds while seizing and melting simultaneously. That’s where I was at.
After the class, I approached the coach to thank him. He asked how I liked my first class and I said, “I liked it! It was really hard. I’m so sorry I was so pitiful!” This man looked at me so seriously and said,
“Why would you say that? Why would you say you were pitiful? You worked incredibly hard and you did your best. Did you see those people leave in the middle of class? You are not pitiful.
I was so taken aback by this. I just thanked him, put my coat on, and left. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It reminded me of something my acting teacher Alexandra Silber says about walking toward your goals. She has us visualize our goals on the horizon, any horizon we’d like to imagine, and we have to walk towards it. The key is that it does not matter how quickly or slowly you are walking towards it, or even if you end up taking a few steps backwards, but, she says, “the only failure is to turn away.”
Both, my surprisingly insightful workout coach and my acting teacher are saying the same thing here.
You guys, just stay in class. Just keep walking. You can never fail as long as you don’t stop. Don’t give up. Maybe things will happen that you didn’t expect, and they may lead you down another path facing a different horizon you’d never thought of before. That is not failure, though, because you continue to walk. Maybe you can’t get that last pull-up in the set because your muscles are shaking and exhausted. That is not failure, though, because you are still on the bar, trying. It is only growth.
So often, we (me too) beat ourselves up about not being where we think we should be, not making enough progress, not achieving enough. We’re not on Broadway yet. We didn’t get that promotion. We call ourselves “pitiful,” or any of the hundreds of synonyms- just take your pick. What does that do for ourselves? When we are standing on that road towards that horizon, we look ahead too often, at the long way we have yet to go, how far away we are. Why don’t we look at how far we have come? How many “exit” signs we zipped past while others hung a left and turned back?
We are much stronger than we let ourselves believe. I don’t mean physically. Mentally. We don’t understand how, even in jest, a negative comment about ourselves places obstacles in our paths toward that horizon. “I’m not good enough.” Traffic cone. “I suck at ____.” Stop sign. “I wish I wasn’t so ____.” Deer. On the other hand, we don’t realize how powerful the mind is at erasing obstacles, keeping us focused, present, persistent- when we allow it to.
This is why I love yoga so much. It is not just a practice for physical fitness, but for mental fitness as well. It is the practice of quieting the mind, staying on the mat, and just breathing. Staying on the mat. Both figuratively and literally. Just like staying in that absurdly difficult workout class, or continuing toward that horizon. You’re there for a reason. Don’t forget that.
I’m going to begin using the horizon visualization in my meditation and see where that takes me. I encourage you to try, as well!
I implore you to practice positivity, and visualize all of those roadblocks ahead disappearing, dissolving, melting away. To practice breath and patience in growth, and to not reprimand yourself when your progress isn’t where you had wished it would be. And finally, to quiet the mind, that voice that says, you don’t have to be here, you don’t belong. It means a lot that you have showed up for the journey in the first place- now your job is to, quite simply, be the one that stays.