Lowering the Bar

This week my home practice happened at 5am one day, 3pm the next, and in spurts throughout the afternoon on another day. Not at all on two days.

Occasionally I feel disappointed in this, wondering whether I’d finally be able to grab the toes of my left foot in triangle pose if I just applied myself with greater consistency, greater diligence, greater drive.

These same feelings come up when I hear friends say things like, “I haven’t missed a day of yoga in 2.7 years. It only takes 27 years to form a good habit. Only 270 days of boot camp and you’ll be a new woman.”  Etc., etc., etc.

Hearing these things, I slump into a kind of anti-achievement stupor. I have set the bar too high to make the leap and all I want now is a bag of chips and a lousy movie.

Same thing goes for every area of my life. Extraordinary colleagues who make Tony Robbins look like a slacker, volunteers who single-handedly bring clean water to very thin children in very small villages, friends who climb absurdly high mountains in Peru for fun and charity dollars. I know these people, and watching them from the comfortable chair in my living room, I sometimes do a little dance with discouragement.

Here’s my response to discouragement and disappointment when they’re doing a nasty tango with me:

1. Lower the bar. This may not be Tony Robbin’s advice, but it works for me. If an hour of practice feels like too high a climb, do thirty minutes. If thirty minutes feels daunting, do one downward dog. I mean it. One.

2. Adore myself for doing one downward dog, for giving myself one glass of water (the children in the village may come another day), for giving every little bit of love I can to myself and my fellow human beings. A well meaning hello with eye contact can save us all, some days.

3. Dream, dream, dream. Of the hamstrings I will have some day, the peace of mind, the work and workplace I’d love, the people I’d love to play with all day long. I do this because of an absolute conviction that dreaming serves to pull these things toward me.

4. Ask myself what one, small thing I’d love to do right now that would take beautiful care of me. Do that one small thing and forget everything else.

These work for me. My guess is that you have your own wonderful thoughts.  I’d love to hear them.

Thanks to yoga for putting all of this in my face this week, and thanks to you for the conversation.

Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, speaker, and workshop wonderwoman in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her at kristinshepherd.ca or on Facebook at Dr. Kristin Shepherd.

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