"It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it." -Lou Holtz
I’m exhausted. Slap fucking worn out. And I have been for years. Yesterday I fell asleep during my meditation. Today I fell asleep during my meditation. Tomorrow… we’ll see when we get there.
I need help. I need support. And there’s just not enough in our culture. Or maybe it boils down to the stigma that confessing to needing more help is a sign of weakness, of not being good and capable enough. Or perhaps it’s that if we take on more help there’s a stigma of privilege. I don’t really know and I don't really care. What I know for myself and what I see and hear around me is that our society is in a crisis. So screw this “I’ve got it. I can handle it all. I’m fucking wonder woman” bullshit. Because you know what? (And you do)… I don’t have it. I can’t handle it. And I’m not bloody wonder woman.
Exhaustion, overwhelm, anxiety, anger, resentment are some of the main reasons yoga is in my life. For years I did all the high intensity things. Even my yoga was high intensity. And I couldn’t figure out why I was so anxious. I had trouble eating. Everything caused me pain and intense bloating. I ended up on Zoloft for about a year and went off when I got pregnant. But it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my second child that I began to see the light of slowing down. It was the beginning of a new lifestyle for me, and a new way to approach my yoga practice. I needed to change up how I was carrying my mental and emotional load, as what I was doing for 30+ years wasn’t working.
So now I’m coming off an exceptionally loaded month where I had the lovely fortune of playing single parent. It happens. And honestly, it happens less for my family than other military families. For that I’m grateful. Yet the burden is still the burden and I’m seeing the effects of that short month in my being this week. The heavy exhaustion. The grasping to regain focus on work. To not instantly check out and hand the kids over to my husband… they need both of us present even more when we transition from a lengthy absence.
And thus my meditations this week have turned in to “nap time”. I was able to carry the increased load of September with greater success than ever before, and now my reserves are depleted. It’s time to replenish what I spent out, and take myself to a new level where I have even more bandwidth for living my life.
So how do I replenish and increase my load bearing abilities?
First, I have to listen to my body’s whispers. Do I need movement? Rest? A quiet meal? A walk?
For me, I usually need rest first. Meditation and yoga nidra are often where I start. Something in the realm of 15-20 minutes is usually enough to reset me for the day.
Once I begin to feel more clear headed and energetic (which could be immediately following my time in stillness or could be after a few days of only practicing stillness), I begin to add some movement. This usually looks like a gentle floor practice with small movements and easy breath.
And then I listen again for those whispers to know when it’s time for more. That’s when I play with more standing work, bigger movements and more physical load. All the while tuning in to the whispers and sensations in my body - when and where I’m gripping and holding my breath, when and where I’m at ease and my breath flows. And this is what I take off my mat in to my daily life. When I can notice these whispers during my daily routines, I’m able to be that much more fluid and easy in my life. I can handle the ebb and flow with significantly more grace and patience than when I don’t take this time for myself.
So. I’m not perfect (duh). Yoga - and my personal approach with yoga therapy - are not a perfect fit for everyone…. but by golly it helps lay a foundation from which I can do some heavy lifting when the load gets high. And maybe it does (or can) for you too.
Here’s to peace, calmness and steadiness amongst the ebb and flow -