Another level of your life opens up when you recognize that you have a life that is inside. — Roshi Joan Halifax, in an interview with Krista Tippet
I can remember that when I first started doing yoga I had lots of ecstatic moments of making an adjustment in my body and realizing how good it felt, and that my mind, and body, and my spirit seemed to shift too. Simple little adjustments like releasing my shoulders, drawing my tailbone down & engaging my belly, even just listening to my breath was an amazing tour of my real body that I live in. I think before yoga I mostly understood my body from the outside; what I saw in the mirror, the scale, what jeans fit or didn’t, basically what I can see from my range of vision. Through the cues of my instructors and especially by doing yoga by myself at home without a mirror to see my exterior body, I started to feel and understand my body based on an internal view of what was happening underneath my skin; which is in fact, everything.
I often think of a couple in the yoga class I went to at the gym in Detroit. They were both completely blind. As in, eyelids closed all the time, completely blind. They were regulars to this pretty vigorous class and were always in the front row, directly in front of the mirror. They moved in and out of poses a little slower but otherwise did the poses as completely as every other sighted person in the room, who was of course staring at themselves in the mirror.
Last week I was at a “Body Pump” class at the Y and a guy showed up at least 5 minutes late and went to the very front of the room, blocking my precious view of myself in the mirror. I am not a fan of late-comers. And then the dude blocked my view of myself, which I have grown quite attached to seeing. But the worst part was that he did everything horribly wrong. His timing was very, very off, his form was so wrong it looked like he would fall over any minute or pop something. The instructor gave cues that were obviously directed toward him (I assumed) but he just powered through, doing it totally wrong while watching her and checking himself out in the mirror constantly. I looked around a few times to see if Ellen Degeneres was pulling a crazy prank on our instructor by tossing this nightmare in the front of the class. It was that bad.
I spent much of the class consumed in wonder of how this guy could not see that he was doing everything so differently and so WRONG,when he could see himself perfectly in the mirror and could also see the instructor. But, it was clear that he did not see himself perfectly in the mirror.
In this particular class, I could tell in my body that I was doing it right. But, I started to think about different times in my life when situations or choices that I had made felt totally wrong on the inside. I would have a tense & nervous stomach, couldn’t sleep, stiff all over, sad, anxious, angry – all the ways you know something is just not right. But, I would be working so hard to make it look like it was ALL GOOD on the outside. ugh. I was just like this guy – working SO hard to make it look right and ignoring all the signs right in front of me, telling me otherwise.
I am trying to keep this internal vision of health & rightness I’ve learned in yoga in mind as I’m working out more and trying to be more intentional to feel good, in general. That being said, I took a picture of myself in my running shorts and sports bra after the first run of my half-marathon training schedule. I think I will take a picture on the day of the half, but I know it will only tell a fingernail clipping of the story. I am on week 3 of training and I am sure I don’t look much different on the outside, but I already feel so much better on the inside. I am sleeping better, my digestion is better (if you know what I mean), my nerves are smoothed out, my relationship with my husband & daughter is better, and best of all I feel that hum of vibrancy in my body. I feel like I am taking more time to pay attention, listen, and make adjustments based on the cues that my whole body (including mind & spirit) is giving me on the inside. And I can feel the gentle shifts in my whole life.
But, I’m not going to throw out all my mirrors. I need to see if my zipper is down or I’ve got something on my butt after all.