Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Am I in danger of becoming one of those mat-carying douche bags I see around town? Ugh. Screw it. Lets watch TV.

Last night, I was thinking about how many people end up on my massage table wishing that they felt better. They ask me, what can I do not to get these knots? Can I get better so I'm not in so much pain? Can I learn to sleep without sleep aids? What about my anxiety? Can I cure it?

I think you don't have to walk around with knots in your back. I think you can reduce your anxiety and your insomnia. But the answer to the question everyone asks (because its almost always the same question, just phrased differently) is that I don't have a pill for you to take to replace the one you are currently taking.

The ultimate in freedom or doucheyness? It depends on if you cary judgement or you make the compassionate choice for yourself. 



I can give you some relief on the table, but you have to be an active participant in your body work to get the best benefit. 

Healing your body and calming your mind is a life long process. People say "Its a life style change." And I think that's true, but I think its scary to people.

Because we are all ego-attached, our lifestyle to some extent defines our ability to desire change. If I now behave like the people that have THIS kind of lifestyle, am I going to end up being one of those mat-carrying douche bags who eat organic food and seem so superior? Can I still hold onto my conservative political views and get body work?

I think the first answer to this is that whether you carry a mat around or eat organic food does not define you as a person. We restrict what we are capable of SO OFTEN by worrying what other people will think. 
She can either be concerned about the world at large making assumptions about her carrying her mat, or she can just get her ass to class because it helps her health. She can also make assumptions about herself if she carries a mat around. Or she can just get her ass to class because that's where she heals her spine.

Before you assign yourself a regimen that is completely different from what you are doing now, and decide to turn yourself in to something you dislike because you've heard it might help; leading you to a half assed practice with one foot in the pool of a new direction and your old life holding on to your other leg... consider this.

What is the compassionate choice?

Yes, that may seem very rainbows and dolphins, but here's the thing. No one can tell what your internal life is. And if you ask yourself this question you may be surprised at the answer. Because the compassionate choice looks at the big picture. Its not "How do I feel right now?" or "I should" or "You suck if you don't" or "I can't commit to that"...leading you to slowly talking your way out of change today with the promise that once you get through your taxes and get your apartment clean you will look at options for your back pain, your lethargy, your anxiety, your insomnia.

Is it compassionate to continue doing what you are doing now? If you looked at it as other people: if you could take your decision making mind and personify it, sit it down next to you on the couch and watch it interact with the child like you that does what your Mind you tells it, it might look like this:

What would it be like if you found a place that felt like THIS when you chose not to eat another oreo, or not to drink that beer, or to go outside and walk, or to go to yoga where your back can heal?
Mind: "You are tired. You should sit here on the couch and eat chips. You can go for a walk tomorrow. Lets work up to the idea of yoga. You don't have to go today. That would be hard, and probably hot, and difficult. Maybe you should lift weights for a while to get in shape to go to yoga. That's a good idea. Drive by the gym tomorrow or the next day and see what they have."

Body: "Okay." munch munch.

Compassionate Mind: "WAIT! If you do that, you are hurting yourself! The choice you are making is ultimately painful! You will be angry that you didn't do any exercise, angry that you are incapable of making change! The anger will compound and will become a story that you begin to believe about yourself, that you just suck at this, that you have to be in pain."

Extrapolate it further. What if you could see the choice you make, the choice you allow yourself to be talked into, your Automatic Negative Thought is the same as letting yourself stay in an abusive relationship? You are being manipulated because change is scary. That which is familiar is known and therefore more welcome than the unknown of LIFESTYLE CHANGE.

Maybe that's too much of a nut to crack all at once. 

Maybe a compassionate choice is to have a little grace for the process, and let it unfold over time.

Maybe it starts with just learning to find your inner compassionate mind. The piece of you that can ask, is this the compassionate choice?

If I eat this whole pizza, momentarily satisfying my craving, or my obsession, or my compulsion, I am handing the reigns of control over to immediate gratification. And if I deny myself by saying, "THATS NOT GOOD DON'T DO IT." I will have about as much luck as my mom did trying to keep me inside my house when I was fifteen. None.
So often the part of our mind that keeps us making the same choices is a piece of our mind that asks us to be willing to be treated like this. Is this the compassionate choice? 

When we come down hard on ourselves, there is an element of judgement that keeps the gift of the new choice from feeling like a gift. We hear thoughts like "Better people can do this. This is too hard for me. If I really cared to get to my goal of not binge eating, not sitting on the couch all day, getting active, I would JUST STOP."

But we can't JUST STOP. We become attached to that which makes us feel good in the short term. And I'm talking about all of us. I'm talking about the guy with the chronic low back pain, not just the addicted eater or the chronic depressive. 

So when you allow yourself to develop that compassionate mind, you can change. You can say, I know that if I eat this whole pizza I will hate myself tomorrow. I will be angry and feel fat and know that now I have to go undo it all in the gym when I could be moving forward. I will cary guilt and shame at my lack of discipline. I will see all the fit bodies walking around who are able to control themselves, and each one of them will serve as a judgement against my ability to succeed. 

It is so much more compassionate for me to make a different choice right now. To stop wherever I am, and be grateful that I was able to listen to that compassionate mind. To listen with gratitude to the me that says, it is kinder not to eat this. 

Now, you can look at other compassionate choices. And different things work for different people. You  might start just by walking. Go outside and look around. Do you need to buy a whole yoga wardrobe and sign up for monthly unlimited and go every day?

No. You'll probably hurt yourself. That's not balanced, either. And the middle path is the compassionate path. And what the middle path looks like, the balanced path, will change as your ability to be compassionate to yourself changes. As your body changes. As what is truly important to you changes. 

It becomes easy to make the compassionate choice, even though it may lead to a difficult activity, because it feels like you caring for yourself. And a bonus of this kind of living, when you treat yourself with grace and compassion, and begin living from that place, you fill up like a vessel. And then you overflow. And THEN, you can help others make the compassionate choice, because you have energy to give. 

You are not giving from an empty, over-taxed place. You can ask, do I have this to give? Because that's the compassionate choice. Not the selfish choice. There is a difference. 

So yes. You don't have to live in pain. You don't have to be scared, and anxious, and a victim of your story. You can become whoever you were meant to become, regardless of your history, your past, your fears. 

If you really want this for yourself, starting from developing a compassionate mind will help you build a set of guidelines that make it easy for you to grow your wings and leave behind that which no longer serves you!

2 comments:

Liat said...

Did something happen that made you think that carrying a yoga mat makes you a douche bag? I'm so confused. This thought has never once crossed my mind.

Did I miss something?

Kate Howe said...

NO not at all! In fact, I had never thought that either. Apparently its a reflexive action from people who would like to try yoga but are afraid that if they carry a mat in public they are making some sort of public statement about their transcendental awesomeness.

That was kind of my point. Practice and all is coming. The only people who might think you are a douche are people who should probably be practicing. And in the long run, why does it matter what people think, if you are following your path?? :)