In our lives as human beings, we all have been equipped with an inner voice. That internal monologue that can be super helpful at times and downright mean and unkind at others. There are so many things that contribute to the dynamics of this inner voice and how each of us speak to ourselves and what we choose to listen to or ignore. The real problem is when we fail to hear what our voice, and ultimately what our body, is trying to tell us. It can happen over such a large span of time, that we may not even notice that it is happening or what sort of consequences may result. When we fail to acknowledge our true self, it can be one of the most unkind and downright cruel things we can do to ourselves.
As a young adult, I made it a point of self esteem to do everything to perfection, or my version of it. Yes, I was a perfectionist. I always wanted my accomplishments to be to the highest degree possible. It worked well academically and professionally, but that’s really as far as it went. After a while, it gets really hard to live up to a self imposed, unrealistic or unattainable goal. Failure to me would be the ultimate devastation. This did happen of course, and when it did so, my self confidence would take a very disproportionate dive downwards. My preoccupation with trying to be my best all the time caused me to ignore any internal giant stop signs. Like the ones you see at an important road intersection that are so big that you could only miss them if you were blind. How sad is that?
Like many type A personalities, control is important for me. As are roadmaps or templates for me to figure out how to do something. Basically the immense creativity that I had as a dancer and an artist, as a child, had disappeared.
When I started to get more involved in the Ashtanga practice, this problem or suite of problems started to secretly find ways for me to discover them.
One of my serious downfalls with the perfection problem was that my fear of failure made it so that when I got to dropping back (pictured above), I couldn’t wrap my mind around ever seeing this as a possibility for me and my body. in vain, I would try to get it, but I started to develop some serious pain in my lower back. Aside from the dedication and discipline required to be an Ashtangi, the ability to think critically about what the poses are doing in the body and why they are done is a necessity. The answers to these are complex and should be elucidated on many levels, in my opinion. I believe that one will most definitely find themselves in a direct confrontation with the ego at one point or another in the Ashtanga yoga practice.
I thought I was just doing what I was supposed to when I let myself hurt my back trying to do drop backs in the beginning. I really didn’t even realize what I was doing. My body had been giving me messages for some time, which I chalked up to something I would just work through. No pain, no gain, right? Of course, the time came when this was no longer possible because I was hurting….badly.
As I worked back, doing only what few poses I could, I started to use that brain inside my cranium. It was an intense and emotional realization- figuring out that I was so concerned with doing a drop back, that I wasn’t even listening to my inner voice or my screaming body. How could I treat myself so carelessly? How could I lose touch with my intuition to this degree? Moreover, how long has this been going on, infecting the rest of my life and how has it affected Me?
I spent a great deal of time reassessing my motivations, my convictions, my inner voice, my body and most of all, feeling my heart. I began to listen and to catch up on so much that I had lost for so many years. Blocks began to unfold, mental ones, relationship ones, all sorts. This process took quite some time.
The important message I want to express in this writing, is that we must not let our inner voice be drowned out by seemingly more important things in life. It is this intuition that we must embrace and let guide us to help us live a fulfilling, happy and love saturated life. Unfortunately, it is far too easy to forget that the most accurate barometer of our well-being resides within ourselves. When things don’t seem right, when life seems elusive and nonsensical, it may be that we need to look beneath the surface and rediscover the essence of our being.
Yoga helped me to rediscover a real and layered disconnect in my life. I revere my practice and have a deep respect for the messages I am able to receive and decode through it. I am eternally grateful and will always listen forevermore to, well, me.