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Day 19 Gets Us Closer To The Other Side January 29, 2011

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 21-Day Challenge, Changing Perspectives, Donate, Fitness, Health, Karma, Karma Yoga, Mantra, Meditation, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Music, Peace, Philosophy, Science, Texas, Twin Cities, Volunteer, Writing, Yoga.
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Day 19

There are only two types of people in a kayak – those who just got wet, and those who’re about to get wet.” – Bob Patman


I learned perseverance is a quality I do not fully comprehend the depths of, but that to ever have a chance at comprehension requires a decision to explore.” – Chris Scotch


I have no doubt you can muscle through…the question is do you have the courage to practice a little peace, to breath your way into a deeper expression.” – me, paraphrasing Mairead Corrigan Maguire


Everybody hits the wall sometime. It’s just a matter of time if you’re putting your endurance to the test. And, it doesn’t matter if you are a professional athlete; a weekend warrior running/walking/rolling/biking for a good cause; or a yogi(ni) taking Yoga Journal’s 21-Day Challenge, at some point you face the fear that it was all for not and you’re not going to make it.

Week 3 of this challenge has, quite possibly, been the most amazing – but it’s also been the most challenging. Even as I got up and got on the mat every day, even as I loved the moments and the awakenings, I started to doubt that I was going to get through it. I started to fear that I was going to oversleep – or fall asleep – or just plan give out. I was hitting the wall.

The funny thing is, I realized that (in this case) the wall was partially of my own making. From the very beginning, I knew that part of my challenge was going to be this blog. I wanted to get some momentum going and get back to writing. I wanted to get past the idea that every entry had to be perfect and erudite. I had to get past the feeling that I didn’t have time – and couldn’t make time. All of this I knew from the beginning. I also knew that it was going to be my little secret. It was going to be the “other stuff” I alluded to on Day 1. And, if I missed a day here or there, no one would be the wiser. So, even though I knew my intention – I didn’t really put it out there. I didn’t mention the blog to anyone I knew until Week 2, and I didn’t encourage anyone to read it until Week 3. Naturally, the minute I opened my big mouth about what I was doing, it became harder to do. I started building the wall.

I could blame the wall on lack of sleep; it’s a common malady. But, every morning I managed to get up and do something. Including this morning, when I felt like staying in bed and chilling out with a good book. Don’t get me wrong. This wasn’t a depressing “I don’t wanna get up, I’m a Toys’RUs kid….” kind of morning. This was a righteous “Wow, I feel so good all tucked in!” kind of morning. I hit the snooze once, maybe twice, and then I got up and sat for 5 minutes. Once my head was clear, I checked my e-mail, reviewed the events of the day, and thought about what I’d led in class earlier in the week and last Friday.

Sometimes I plan out my classes weeks in advance, sometimes mere days; but sometimes I wake up in the morning, toss the plan out, and start anew. This was one of those start anew mornings; I felt compelled to practice a little peace. So, I futzed around with a playlist, a sequence, and a theme I used this time last year. Then I considered how I wanted it to work given how I felt and what I’ve learned over the last year. All of this was in my head, but once I got on the mat I let the breath take over. I let the breath become the wall – and suddenly, I was going over the wall. I was having fun, feeling good, and more or less ready for my day.

I taught 3 classes today and although they were all centered around the “Peace People” theme and sequence, they were very different classes. The first was the most physically challenging (and, oddly, the smallest group class); the second was a private class with an emphasis on the therapeutic and restorative benefits of the practice; and the third class (which was, oddly, the largest) was another group class made challenging because it was by candlelight. Inevitably, the evening classes are a little slower and, every once in a while, I simplify the transitions or modify the balancing sequences to accommodate the darkness. While they resembled each other, and my own personal practice, none of these classes resembled the practice I did last year to celebrate Mairead Corrigan Maguire’s birthday.

Last year’s sequence was intended to be physically exhausting. I wanted people to struggle. I wanted them to find that place where they had to make a decision: muscle through and not enjoy the practice, or breathe their way into a smile.

This year, I wanted a challenging sequence that would leave everyone with a peaceful feeling. The emphasis was on hip opening and side stretching. I wanted to get at those pesky hamstrings and IT bands, but I also wanted to get in some core work and some arm balancing. During my personal practice, I felt challenged but relaxed – peaceful yet engaged. During the morning class, however, I wondered if the class was a little lighter than people expected (or wanted). Maybe for some it was, but midway through, I looked up and saw sweat sprinkled on one member’s t-shirt while several other members strategically inserted Child’s Pose into their vinyasa. “We are,” I thought, “exactly where we need to be.”

After class, I used one of the battery operated candles for my 18-Minute So Hum Meditation. I felt good, relaxed, steady, and peaceful. I could have easily ended my day here, but I still needed to fulfill the rest of my challenge. So, I headed home to practice the 30-Minute Peak Pose Sequence featuring Wheel Pose with Jason Crandell.

For the record, Crandell rocks my world again and again. I’d like to call him a teacher’s teacher, which he most definitely is, but (to be fair) he’s also an “Everyman’s Teacher.” He systematically opens up the body and fires up muscles even I forgot I had. I modified some of the arm movements just to relieve some tension in my shoulder. Half way through the Sun Salutations, I felt myself drop over the other side of the wall. Somewhere between Bridge Pose and the second or third Wheel Pose, I had not only forgotten about the wall, I had forgotten the fact that I was nursing some tenderness in my shoulder. I can’t say I was ready for a fourth Wheel Pose, which would have been my fifth (or sixth) one of the day, but I did foresee myself going into an expression I’ve only dreamed of taking. Seriously, last week, I had an 8-year old (I think) in my class doing this extended Wheel. Her parents and I joked that we wouldn’t be doing that version anytime soon. Today, however, I could feel myself being ready to do it sooner rather than later.

It was a great feeling. And with that great feeling came an even better reminder: Everybody hits the wall sometime. Just like everyone who spends any significant time in a kayak flips it over. But, it’s nothing to fear. Getting wet is half the fun – it proves you were out there and you were doing it. And once you get back in the boat, you’re on your way; you’re past that moment.

Hitting the wall is the same thing. It’s bound to happen, but it’s nothing to fear. Because, regardless of who you are or what you’re doing, there’s a second wind waiting for you on the other side of that wall. There’s a deeper experience – a deeper expression, one you’ve only imagined in your dreams. One you can only experience if you make the decision to explore.

So, take a deep breath, get wet, persevere, and and get yourself (peacefully) to the other side.


Bob Patman is usually in Texas and Mairead Corrigan Maguire resides in Ireland.

Which begs the question: Where's Chris Scotch?

Well, on Monday, January 31st, Chris will be in International Falls, Minnesota racing in the Arrowhead 270. Send him warm thoughts, big smiles, and, if you're so inclined, help him send some cold hard cash to St. Jude Children's Hospital.

~ Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanthi Om ~

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