I had an interesting experience in my teacher training this weekend. As is sometimes the case–because of a different topic that had been nagging me–I started the day in a resistant mood.
Early into the morning, I couldn’t contain my frustration and said to our teacher, Chase: “what is the point of all this [therapeutic yoga] if we can’t return to the things we enjoy after, if we have to keep “babying” our bodies to prevent re-injury?! If all I get to do is inhale and move my arm over my head, exhale and bring it down–when what I ENJOY and want to do is go to Barre class–what is the POINT of living for heaven’s sake!? My question was 100% serious, and also tinged with anger. What WAS the point, after all? Barre class (and many other less strenuous things) are physical activities I used to enjoy very much. I’ve always been a “mover”! Without being able to do these things, it’s not just my physical form that suffers, because everything is related. My mind gets really agitated too. I feel like I can’t easily release stress and tension (at least not in a healthy way), I feel flabby and unattractive, I don’t feel like i can eat whatever I want, etc. etc.
Chase pointed out that we enjoy what we do because of the specific FEELING that the activity creates. (This made sense to me, as it’s the same with Eating Psychology Coaching and why we turn to certain foods/drinks at certain times. Oddly I hadn’t really looked at my exercising that way.) Anyway, Chase said that if we can identify what feeling we are truly after, then we can use a meditation practice to link to that experience, instead of having to look outside ourselves. This concept naturally requires that one figure out what feeling the experience of going to Barre class, for example, evokes.
A bit later on, a fellow classmate Pam said something about power, and my light-bulb instantly went on. For me, physical activities like Barre class make me feel strong and powerful. Sure I’m little, but I could kick your butt (surprise!!). Kickboxing (when I used to do that) would definitely give me that feeling too. Even certain moves in Tai Chi, where we’re moving slow, fluidly, and with the Chi energy that I can feel will evoke this feeling of power in me. If I’m honest, Barre also sometimes make me feel “better” than the other women around me (because I can stay in an exercise longer, or do it with better form, or without my legs shaking like a leaf even though I feel that burn, etc.). But that really just boils down to power too.
I also pretty quickly recognized that most of my childhood and early adult life I felt pretty powerless. As a child I was terrorized at home and lived in utter fear of my raging father, with mom doing her best to keep me from pissing him off. As if other kids could sense my lack of power, I was mercilessly picked on at school too. I spent a lot of time alone, trying not to get noticed because getting noticed was sure to bring trouble. In private Catholic school, the teachers didn’t give students much personal power either. In college, I spent a lot of time and felt completely stressed trying to please my mom, staying with a degree and a field that never truly resonated with me. Again, powerless.
My subsequent thoughts from this realization went something like this:
- OK, so I can create a feeling of power and strength in my meditation practice (i.e. without NEEDING to go to Barre, which I can’t). Cool!
- Hmmm…do I really need to feel that way…now?
I’m still in the pondering stages, but the last question threw me a bit. Maybe I do still need a way to feel strong and powerful (at least for the time being–like I “need” to make/buy the coffee that soon after I don’t have any urge to drink anymore). But maybe my circumstances are different now. Maybe I’m SAFE, and I don’t need to feel overly strong or powerful. Vacillating between extremes is what I’ve done in many circumstances, when what I always seem to be seeking is balance. I wouldn’t want to just become a doormat–I want to live “in” my personal power, rather than feel a compulsion toward outside activities to provide that.
Getting there is the hard part!
Does your personal power come from within or without? Do you exercise too little personal power, or too much? Talk to me.