my decision to do a little woowoo on my daily practice the other day combined with a a meeting of the covenish (as mentioned here and here ) yesterday has shifted things for me. “things” couldn’t possibly be a less descriptive word but sometimes i have problems fitting the experiences of woowoo, energy shifts, awareness, into language. hang in there with me.
one of the things i have been reminded of is the power of setting intention and using attention or awareness to make any activity a part of the practice. i know, i should in some way be able to define what “the practice” is and i may try to return to that but right now i am just going to keep trying to fit these little puzzle pieces together and loop back to shredding.
my thinking about my practice was in part reinvigorated by a post put up by mind body mama (whose blog i really like) on the container and the practice. my brain wasn’t ready to fully process how her piece related to me but it was sitting in there like a nice portion of food to be digested. sometimes i can just tell there is a message for me but i am not sure what the message is and so i just hold onto things and slowly it fits itself into my brain and heart where it should. reminds me a little of the biological basis class i had to take as part of my masters in counseling psychology where i didn’t understand what i was reading when i read it, but if i let go of my concern over that and just let it sit i “got it” eventually. but, i digress.
mind body mama’s writing was sitting with me, and then i did my own woowoo the other day which kind of reaffirmed things and then more talk during covenish yesterday and suddenly there was some clicking into place. anything i chose to use as a container can be one. gardening, yes and breathing and making the bed and folding the diapers and nursing the pea to sleep at night. the world is my oyster.
this realization paired up with my own thoughts on exercise and with some stuff that wotw and i were talking about a little while ago with regards to my shredding. (what is shredding? it is the act of doing this 30 day shred dvd. somehow the fad is sweeping the blogosphere and i got hooked in.) the truth is that i do want to find a fitness routine that helps me to drop some of my baby growing weight and tones my body back up a bit because i think i feel healthier when i am in better shape. the other truth is that i think working out my body helps me to stay happier. but i am afraid that it is all too easy to get sucked into the shredding as something that i do mindlessly. the shredding becomes a physical activity to push myself through instead of a time set aside to work my body while listening to my body and staying clearly focused and attentive on what there is to learn.
jillian even says at some point on level 2 something to the affect of “i want you to feel like you are dying.” and i am sorry, i think jillian should be commended for creating a workout routine that so many people are benefiting from but putting out there the idea that as we exercise we should ignore input from our body and spirit and get to the point of feeling like death simply doesn’t help me.
when i was in college up in maine at bates (briefly, before transferring to hampshire college in western mass. which was a much better fit for me) i took a “short term” class taught by an intensely cool philosophy professor on the art, philosophy and practice of karate. we met in a gym room and treated it like a dojo, the professor was a black belt and she led us through some basic karate training. we also read a lot of books (like the art of war, the tao of jeet kune do)and talked about the thinking behind martial arts. this was sort of my first introduction to having a physical practice and a philosophy or spirituality that were linked, working together, combined.
later on in life i was introduced to the practice of yoga and i once again was submerged into the art of using the body work as a container for some more spiritual practice. so, when wotw was voicing some concern over how exactly i was shredding it wasn’t like i thought she had no point. i just wasn’t yet ready to figure out what it meant to me. what i did clarify for myself at that time was that i could not fall into using the shredding as way to “prove” anything or to be “tough.” it is more important to me that i stay comfortable physically and that i hold my chiropractic structure than that i look good in a swim suit or that i move through the three levels at the suggested pace. sounds like a simple enough truth to hold onto but it is hard for me. once i decide i want to get into better shape i really do want to power on through and get into better shape. but there is that nagging voice in the back of my head saying “push yourself but do it with awareness.”
because i do believe it is possible for me to shred, to push myself, to get more fit, to get sore and struggle and make it really tough, and also to be present and aware and using the shred as a container. the trick is to set my intention and to use my awareness and to stay on top of things. in my yoga practice i learned a lot about how my body likes to fall into doing things “incorrectly” because then it feels easier in the moment but that leads me to pain and injury i do not need. for example, each minute adjustment a yoga teacher describes makes my body feel like it is working much harder, and it is, but it also leave more comfortable over all at the end. lets say we are in a warrior pose with our front leg bent at a 90 degree angle. the teacher might ask us to bring our attention to the arch of our foot and to lift it up off the ground which will then straighten out our thigh. when i do this my quad says, “wow, it is a lot harder to be straight” and also my knee says “thank you for taking the strain off of me and putting it onto the muscle that can bear it safely.”
ok i am sorry if this is getting wordy. i did say i was piecing things together. so today i really did not want to shred. i started off strong with my shredding at the beginning of may and fit it in about 5 times a week and noticed real changes in my body. then last week i was sick, the bean was sick, and chickpea was sick and i did nothing. not a single shred. i was way too sick and exhausted and sleep depraved. it has been very difficult for me to get myself back into shredding. i simple do not want to do it. but i know, from before, that if i can make myself i will feel better.
today i decided to try out the idea of using my shred as a practice. shred as a container to hold my practice. i was determined to bring awareness and not just toughness to the workout. i still did the full 20 minutes of level 2. i still felt like puking at the end. but, yet, it was totally different. each movement i checked in with my body to make sure it was safe. i challenged myself to try harder but also to be more correct. when i get tired i slump and i let my body cheat its way through the workout just so i can finish. push push push is what i do. and today i asked myself lovingly, “please stand up straight and use your core. if you do not your back is going to be injured.” and i modified things that felt like too much strain on my joints to be safe. and i threw in a little more yoga. and i asked my higher self to chose who to follow for each movement so that i was sure that it was bringing up the right level of energy and challenge for me.
the amazing thing was that i worked so hard, i did push myself (maybe even harder with all my focus on correct use of my body) and my higher self did at time chose to follow natalie (the harder version of the moves for you non-shredders). other times my higher self told me to put down the weights. and you know what, i listened.
at the end of the workout i had the usual adrenaline high going on but i had something else too…that feeling you can get sometimes from meditation or from a really good yoga class or from listening to a chakra balancing cd turned up so loud your whole body gets it. i was vibrating with energy. core energy. god is within me energy. kundalini, the snake had uncoiled and i was just alight. a light.
i think that i have found the new goal for myself with shredding. yes, i want to get fit. but i do not want to do it through putting on my blinders and toughing things out. my higher self is tough, my aware self is tough, and she is also in tune with my body and good at making smart decisions. so i am going to try to do a different kind of shred. the kind that insists on being present, focusing, attentive and aware. a zen and the art of shredding kind of shred. a woowoo kind of shred.
any other shredders out there want to join me? or even just discuss?
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