I embarked on a journey to discover and become my grandest, happiest self. And did the exact opposite. I enforced physical pain and stressed myself out. Instead of living, I was consuming. Instead of listening, I was ignoring. Instead of crafting a happy me, I neglected my health and was destroying the foundation that builds up a happy person in the first place.
The moment of epiphany
In order to deepen my yoga practice, I frequent yoga studios to learn from the pros. Get my postures corrected, adopt new ones to include in my sessions. My 60th yoga session in a row was a guided one. And turned out to be one of my worst. Not because of the instructor. It was self-inflicted terribleness.
I was weak, not able to follow the flow nor hold the poses, and not sure whether it was because I was refusing to use a chair or bed, because I cut out carbs from my diet or because I overate, stressing myself of not moving fast enough. In a sense, I was becoming less aware of who I am. I managed to press pause. I had to detach myself from the experiences of the past two months, rewind and reflect. Although I wasn’t meant to sit, I did. And although I was meant to eat no carbs, I bought a menu at Burger King and ate it shamelessly. It was terrible by the way.
The following four aspects are lessons from two months of exploration.
Consuming vs. living experiences
For a month, I ate no meat. But was no vegetarian. For a month, I ate no animal products. But was no vegan. I was at the brink to follow the paleolithic diet when the bat of reality hit me.
I was following a script to create artificial authenticity. To claim that I had resisted pleasures. I had started to explore certain diets and ways to eat to rediscover what food means for me and see how my body reacts if I cut out certain foods. I never listened. I merely consumed.
Wrong on so many levels, being on a certain diet is more than eating food according to a script. I was neglecting the whole philosophy behind it. Besides, I would never become a vegan, extract all carbs or abandon meat unless it suited my body and was aligning with my beliefs. For this, I had to learn to listen first.
Exploring our boundaries vs. pushing beyond
I sleep on the floor and refuse to sit to prove to myself and others that I am not afraid to question deeply embedded assumptions. Although the experience teaches me valuable lessons which I will come to share, I could have done it smartly and ease into the process. I chose the dumb way.
Not able to sit cross-legged, I forced my body into the position. I went cold turkey. Pushing through pain, ignoring glaring signs of distress, possibly damaging my knees. I rushed into an experience without research or plan and neglected the most valuable resource of all; my health. This I will never again do.
Hard Work vs. Real Work
Hard work doesn’t matter. It’s the results that earn the stars and rewards. There is no point in waking up early and mingling around our workstation the whole day, not producing anything. I was spending days doing, but neither working nor living.
And I was stressing myself out about it. Believing that I can do more to be more, I left one race to join the next. It’s a lesson we have to relearn over and over again.
Life is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. If we wear ourselves out on the first stint, we drop dead before the finish line. In life, there is no hurry. But there is no pause either. Move slowly and consistently and learn to enjoy the process. That’s how working and living is done.
Winning vs. Failing
I could have called it a day. Seen where I went wrong and given up, discouraged by my mistakes. Submitting to the idea that the whole project is just a stupid brainpuke.
But that’s not how winning is done. The only time we fail is when we stop to move. I paused to reflect, gained clarity, readjusted my course and continue to proceed. I slept in my bed for three nights and went back to the floor. Continue to squat when on the loo.
I had commited myself to the experiences. Though I see the stupidity on many levels, I will not run away. I choose myself to succeed on my own terms. Watch me do so or fail miserably. Only the future will tell.