Over the past 18 months, I’ve discovered an inner athlete I didn’t know existed. Contrary to my entire adult life, now I LIKE to sweat and I LIKE to work and waking up sore in the morning makes me chuckle more than groan. The inner conversation involves a lot of ‘mock complaining’ as I take inventory of what hurts and compare it to the activities of the day before.
Almost everything I’ve tried was hard the first time. Cardio kickboxing? Oh dear, epic, epic fail. Hated it so much. Felt uncoordinated, awkward, and just plain dumb. After a few more practices, the beauty of the moves came through, the arms and legs figured out the routine, and now I like it – a lot.
Agility drills forced me to jump over planks and cones and while trying to get over the dumb things with my knees drawn to my chest, I also had to think about landing softly. Oh and breathe, yeah, that too. Months later, agility is a favorite. This week in training, I was somewhat disappointed when the cones didn’t make an appearance.
Never would have thought that would have happened. But when the muscles are strong, previous challenges just look easier.
My first yoga class couldn’t have been worse. The teacher introduced herself as ‘your torturer for the next 75 minutes’ and she was pretty close to the mark. As with other activities, the first time, I thought everyone else looked marvelous, I felt like a lump. It was months before I tried yoga again. And while I’ll never win any award for gracefulness, that matters so little. What matters is that on my mat, I can breathe and sink into a pose and just love being. Peaceful, accepting, and happy.
What do all of those things have in common? To have any type of command, I had to practice, over and over, until the movements gained some automaticity, until the body grew strong, until I gained confidence and said to myself, “Yes, I CAN do this.”
Now it’s time to practice something else, maybe the most important thing yet. I can practice being happy. Physical muscles can become strong, and I’m betting emotional ones can also. I can practice positive thoughts, controlled reactions, loving prayers. I can practice all of these things until the habits gain some automaticity, until the heart grows strong, until I gain confidence and say, ‘Yes, I CAN do this. ‘
Growing the physical muscles took time, patience, and a steady bridging from one mastered move to the next step of that move. The emotional ones will form the same way. But the key will be consistency. Consistency with writing, breathing, and meditation. And yoga. I don’t think there is anything I do in my life that yoga does not touch in some way.
But even when the muscles are strong, not everything goes to plan. I stumbled over a jump the other day in training. No real reason, just a miscalculation. As I self-righted, my trainer remarked, “Do you know how many muscles you just had to use to save that? Good job.” It was the practicing for months that allowed me to correct and stay upright. Wanna bet the same thing can happen when someone unloads a boat-load of undeserved negativity right in my lap? Or when everything I try goes wrong? That’s when it’s time to reflect on what builds resiliency – just breath, stretch, shake, then let it go. Make a choice. Choose to step off the roller coaster.
Choose to react with love. Choose joy.
So, there it is. Time to practice positivity; time to practice loving reactions; time to practice being happy. It won’t always be smooth, but let’s see if I can keep from stumbling with new muscles that can also learn how to work.
Thoughts to take with me today: Grow strong; it only takes practice.