Smile Politely

Week Five: Every day, give yourself a present

After rounding out the fifth week of The Yoga Experiment, I feel like I am finally beginning to relax into my practice. I am getting to know the teachers and the other students, and I have proven my dedication to myself and others. Five weeks is huge for me, now I can say that this is the longest and most consistently I have ever “worked out” in my life (or at least since high school), and it has by far been the most fun. The immediate rewards that I have reaped are mind blowing.

Even though I am trying not to focus so much on my weight, I still can’t get over the fact that I have lost 10 lbs.; and that while one month ago I could barely sit at a 90 degree angle, now I can (on a good day) reach down and grasp my feet during the seated forward bends. I no longer feel like a huge inflexible freak while in class, I’ve realized that while I still can’t do a lot of things as well as some of the more experienced yogis, I can float into a lot of poses easily. I feel lighter in my body, and my job as a massage therapist is so much easier: my legs are stronger and my feet are more flexible, therefore, I am in a lot less pain after a session.

But that is what makes this a dangerous time. This is the point at which I usually get bored and tired of eating healthy, and start eating crap. Most of the big progress has been made, and the excitement of a new endeavor is gone. I still have a long road ahead of me. I have committed to do TYE for 11 more months, but I would like for yoga to be a part of the rest of my life. This is the time when persistence must truly be employed. Now that I have some of the basics figured out, I need to give other areas of my life a makeover to keep my interest engaged. This includes identifying areas of my life which are energy vampires, and doing my best to eradicate them.

I watch a lot less TV than I used to, but there is still room for improvement. We didn’t move our TV into our new house, but I still find myself on the internets, watching crap like The Biggest Loser, or inexplicably, The Hogan Family on YouTube. I get drawn into marathons where I will start watching a batch of shows in the morning, and come back to reality several hours later to realize the sun has gone down and I haven’t accomplished anything on my to-do list for the day.

Also, one of my deepest, darkest secrets is my addiction to For the uninitiated (consider yourselves lucky) Pogo is a website in which you can play a variety of games: card games, board games, poker and other casino games, etc. Each week, the website hosts “challenges” in which you focus on a single goal, such as “Make 100 5-letter words in Scrabble this week” or “Underknock your opponent 10 times in Jungle Gin.” Over the course of four years, I have won merit badges for almost 300 challenges. This might sound impressive at first, until you think about the hundreds (maybe thousands?) of hours I have wasted playing solitaire, when I could have been reading books or honing my skills at some kind of craft. I feel sick at all of the time I have squandered. Thus, as of this morning, I have de-activated my account. I’m already having some withdrawal pains.

Once, I was taking to a friend who I consider to be somewhat of a wise sage. I was telling him about my weaknesses in these areas and he quoted Agent Dale Cooper to me: “Sheriff? I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it, just… let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot, black coffee.”

I’m not going to give up watching movies completely or wasting time on the internet, but I am learning how to properly enjoy them instead of letting them take over my life. (By the way, the irony does not escape me that I am making a Twin Peaks reference as I’m telling you I want to watch less TV.)

But, enough about the stuff I don’t want in my life. This is what I DO want more of: walks around town, ukulele playing, hula hooping, dinners with friends, meaningful study of spiritual texts, green tea, hot sex, dancing in my underwear in the living room, time with my family, road trips, peace, love and yoga. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m starting to figure out how all of this can happen.

May your life hold similar pleasures. Namaste.

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