Judgement Day

I was gone again last weekend and spent some serious time away from activity the last four days to just give myself time to breathe and think and allow life to happen. And in that time I continued with my meditations and a few thoughts occurred to me regarding one of the idea of letting go. One of the things that I teach in my yoga classes is the idea of letting go of judgement. This is a very hard thing to do for anyone and I find that, while I can let go of judgement of myself (for the most part), I am still judging others.

A few weeks back I was out with my husband and saw a woman whom I used to consider a friend in what seems like a lifetime ago. I am not sure if she also saw me or recognized me, but either way, we both pretended that we didn’t see the other person and continued about our night. After seeing her I commented to my husband, rather judgmentally on my part, about how the other woman seemed to be in less fit shape than when we were friends. I noted, again not my finest moment, about how if I were single and childless that I would take all of that spare time to workout and keep myself in great shape by doing all of my favorite things. How I missed the times when I could spend hours at the gym, pool, etc and, although I love my children, am really looking forward to the days when I can put forth a little more effort into my physical health by exercising like I used to without children attached to me in some way.

Then, I promptly thought (to myself) who am I to judge her? There are many a day when the weather is fine and I still choose not to go for a run even though I am perfectly capable of doing so. There are many a day when I listen to my body and say yes to a large bowl of ice cream when I haven’t exercised (because I don’t believe that food should be a reward and it’s okay to treat yourself if it’s what you’re really craving and it has no emotional component to the desire other than you would enjoy the taste of some really good ice cream).

There has been a lot of discussion lately about feminism and women v women prejudice (see a list of blog posts at the bottom that I have enjoyed reading on related topics) and in some ways I am seeing that no matter what I am doing to help make myself a better person, it won’t really do much if I can’t see others as inherently good people by whatever my measure is as well. So, how do I measure if I am a good person?

Well, I’m no Mary Poppins, but I do try to give most people the benefit of the doubt and keep an open mind. Gates mentioned in the Day 13 reading (I did last week sometime) that instead of getting angry at himself over getting angry, that he would instead look to the light and stop judging himself for being human. So, when I catch myself judging myself or others, I will not beat myself up over it, I will instead stop, find something positive to focus on (the light), and let the negative fall away. You can’t change all of your errors. You are, in fact, human and by nature error ridden. You can only be the best you that you can be and keep trying.

Meghan Trainor’s #1 Hit “All About That Bass” – Body Positivity or Misogyny? – Green Mountain at Fox Run

An Interview With Chiara Mazzucco, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Indie Chicks – Green Mountain at Fox Run

Women Who are Ambivalent about Women Against Women Against Feminism – the Bloggess

A Transgender Man Made Me Love My Vagina – Indie Chicks

The Mean Girl Experience – We Don’t Chew Glass

Meditation Monday #55 – Valuable Reprogramming

I decided to go back to reading Gates today. It’s been on my “to do list” for quite some time, but always seems to be pushed to the side for other Monday activities. Today I did the Day 90 reading about Svadhyaya and asked myself the question:

What are my own limiting beliefs?

My husband is always saying that I have a problem with “men”. I don’t believe it to be true. I work with male students, colleagues, have two sons, and used to be almost exclusively friends with “men”. I see most “men” not as “men”, but as people just as I see “women” as people. It’s only upon interacting with people do I then make judgements about who/how they are.

How very anti-yoga of me to make judgements?! But, also, how completely yoga of me to admit that, to be truthful, honest, and self-aware.

I have written a few posts about judgement (prejudice) and self-study (svadhyaya). I think that learning where we fall short is important for growth in our lives. However, Gates mentions the way that we’re programmed to think based on what we’re told by tv, newspaper, or (now) social media. He writes:

The world is not safe, you are not safe, you need X-Y-or-Z to be safe. Your life is not enough, you are not enough, you need X-Y-or-Z to be enough. p.120

In the past few years we’ve been bombarded with ways in which people (mostly men and some women) are acting in ways that we (as a society) no longer feel comfortable with. I have always stood by these values that people should be treated equally and with kindness and compassion. I don’t always succeed at this, but I keep trying.

Last week a woman came up to me in a parking lot at the beach. She told me that she was homeless and asked if I could help her out because she hadn’t eaten all day. I told her, honestly that I didn’t have any cash. She asked if I would go to McDonald’s across the street and buy her a burger. I told her no, that I couldn’t do that either. This too was the truth. I had my children with me, we were out of time on our parking meter and they were tired and wet from having been at the beach. We had somewhere else to be soon. And my summer money is tightly budgeted as I don’t often work over the summer. But ….those are all justifications. Part of the truth was that I had watched several news reports in our area about people who were pretending to be homeless! People who went on camera (with their faces blurred and their voices altered) and admitted that they sat on a corner for a few hours each day to make money instead of going to a job. They also went to food pantries and other handouts and were letting others pay for their rent and food and utility expenses by pretending to be homeless. So, my instinct in this situation was not to give her the money.

This all made me wonder:

How much of the media influence makes me weary of being open, trusting, and sharing with people?

How much of our culture is making me seem like I have a problem with men when I speak up for equality?

How are my judgements limiting me and am I in need of some valuable reprogramming?

Wellness Wednesday #6 – Under Pressure!

It’s been 15 days since my last post. However, I’m not too bummed about it. I’m still being far more regular than I was last fall and that is an improvement by anyone’s measure. The last Wellness Wednesday post was about Eating. That can cause a lot of stress for anyone to handle in the best cases. For me, my eating of late has been all over the place. I find myself choosing and wanting to choose more things that I consider “healthy”….although I hate using that word.

Recently I read a post on Fit is a Feminist Issue about tracking the variety of foods you eat. We are kind of in a rut at our house with meals and produce and other plant based foods. Tonight will be one of our favorites….burrito bowls. This usually consists of rice and beans and avocados and salsa and whatever else we dream to put into the bowl. I know, I know….the last post was about EATING, so why am I still talking about it? Well, because Eating tends to lead to stress for some people and stress is one of our FEELINGS, and that’s the main focus of our discussion today… Continue reading “Wellness Wednesday #6 – Under Pressure!”

Meditation Monday #50 – Wisdom from Within

A lot of Gates’ writing in this section of the book talks about discipline (tapas) and turning inward. In Day 82 he notes that we all start out learning from others, but eventually have to trust our own judgements. Thus is the story of life.

Discipline is about creating our own path by following in the footsteps of others before us. Our parents probably taught us differently and therefore we have a skewed vision of the word. But think about it…..

If I am your parent, teacher, trainer, etc….and I want you to follow what I do, then why would I punish you? Instead I should model and teach you to be my disciple, to follow me, to cultivate your own discipline.

I’ve learned a lot about myself through yoga and I’ve learned a lot from others teaching me. In the end, it’s all about choosing what is right for me in life. This is a lesson I’ve learned along the way in blogging too. The “right way” to blog may not be my way.

So, this week I am taking off to enjoy Thanksgiving with my husband’s family. I am taking my own path. I have a pre-scheduled post for Friday, but other than that you won’t see me here until next Monday. My family, my friends, and myself have taught me that holidays are for enjoying. I encourage you to find joy this week….away from the news, the internet, and other things that force us to disconnect from those directly in front of us.

Happy Thanksgiving 2017!

Meditation Monday #36 – How to Meditate: The Four Aims of Life (Moksha)

It’s Monday again and it’s raining. Raining because it’s spring and spring flowers need rain. Raining because it’s April and April showers bring May flowers. Raining because it was very dry and my rain barrels were empty. Raining and spring bring about changes and I have a lot of them to write about…..but I’m saving that for later. Today I want to end our discussion on the Four Aims of Life. Previously I have written about duty, prosperity, and pleasure. Today we’re going to talk about Moksha: Freedom. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #36 – How to Meditate: The Four Aims of Life (Moksha)”

TOLT: But I Won’t Do That!

You all remember the Meatloaf jam from back in your middle school days…..I will do anything for love…..but I won’t do that!

Well, welcome to another TOLT hosted by Amanda at Running With Spoons. Today I want to expand off of my post from Monday and continue with a series on my own Happiness Project: MY BEST BODY.

I’ve spent a little more time considering my post and my goal and what I will do moving forward and I’ve come up with only three things so far that I promise not to do:

  1. Take before and after photos
  2. Go on a diet
  3. Use exercise as punishment or food as a reward

These are three things that align pretty well with my own living principles as well as some of the tenets of yoga.

Ahimsa – Cause no harm

I, as a fitness professional, know that dieting is harmful to the body. I hate the fact that this simple little four letter word that means all of the food you eat has become something so vile and negative that I have to make a statement about how I won’t go on one. Technically we’re all on a diet…..we all eat. I decided not to harm myself in other ways during this adventure by being mindful of my workouts, checking in with myself on the regular through meditation, and keeping in mind that this is a journey of my whole body getting well….not just trying to get thin.

Santosha – Contentment

I need to remain content as I travel this path. It’s okay that right now I am battling my body, this too will get better. It’s okay that I will never again be a size 2 Juniors. I’m 36 and have two children and care more about being able to someday do a pull-up than to bare my midriff for attention. This is a project and a process, I have to be ready each day to face the challenges with an air of contentment: I AM.

Svadhyaya/Satya: Self-Study and Honesty

I paired these two together because they both also encompass the idea of non-judgement of myself and others by living who I am and by learning about that. This is why I don’t need before and after photos…..I have before and during and after blog posts. I have my meditation journals. I can track my fitness and all of the other measurements I will use along the way. However, as I track I need to go back to Santosha and remember to be content with the progress that does and doesn’t come.

NUMBER THREE

On a side note, I found myself trying to do number three a lot this week. Yesterday I ate a snack with my little guy. I had a super hungry moment (most likely fueled by the Prednisone) in which I ate the snack so mindlessly and then had the thought pop into my head “Thank goodness I’m going for a run now”. Bad me! But I also need to be kind with myself in my thoughts…..I need to avoid falling into the disordered eating traps of rewards and punishments that come with food and exercise. This project needs to be about me being well and functioning.

I can’t guarantee that this is going to work and I’m still in the process of defining my plan, but this was the next step.

Have you ever entered into a Happiness Project?

How do you incorporate the yoga principles into your life challenges?

What won’t you do?

The Run Struggle

Yesterday morning I went for my training run and decided to list the commentary inside my head for you here.

  • Why is it so hot and humid at 645am?
  • Running in glasses really bothers me, but I can’t afford contacts every day.
  • I ran in the same clothes I wore to bed….they are a little small.
  • My shirt keeps rolling up and exposing my stomach; I’ll tuck it in to the shorts and just live.
  • My shorts are too short and my thighs are rubbing together.
  • Am I going for time or distance today?
  • What was the dead thing in the road just then?
  • I’m ahead of a 10 min/mile pace.
  • I can’t breathe regularly.
  • My shoes are getting old.
  • Please stop looking at me while I run.
  • We really need a crosswalk at this stop light.
  • Did I hit the lap button or the stop button just then?
  • Shadow girl, I will never catch you!
  • I should write a post about this.
  • Don’t forget the thing about the obliques.
  • Why do black racerback tanks make you look flat chested? Does it matter?
  • What will I need to stretch when I get back inside?
  • How will I fit in a 9 mile run before my husband goes to work without having to get up at 5am?
  • My recovery is always so quick….
  • I am bored with the music on Truffle Shuffle.

There were several times during this run that my body image came into play, especially at the start of the run. I am worried about how people driving by will think of me when they see me flapping in the wind. What if my stomach or my thighs show? Why do these thoughts come into mind? Because I’m still holding on to this image of me as a high school cross country runner. When I could freely and comfortably run in a sports bra and short shorts and feel confident. I am a better runner now than I was then. I am better about training, doing other things than running, and also about stretching and eating well. But now, more than ever in my adult years, I am self conscious as I run.

My body is an amazing thing and gives me so many wonderful gifts in life to move, to work, to hold my children. I need to remember that the worst critic on my body is myself and that my runs are supposed to be that judgement free zone.

Enjoy this post by Anne Poirier at FitWoman.com

A Letter from My Thighs: Why Do You Hate Us So Much?

and tell me…..

What do you think about while you run?

Are you your own harshest critic?

Meditation Monday #19: How Yoga Am I? – Trouble with Participation Trophies

I’m going to tell you from the start that this post is a little like a rant, but it’s a necessary unloading of some thoughts and feelings that I need to explore on my path to lead a more yoga life. I encourage your feedback on the issues.

I wrote a series in April about my yoga journey (12 Years of Yoga), but I find that I often stumble along my path to live a more yoga lifestyle. Case in point is the way I was making judgements last week at my son’s gymnastics show. All of the kids (preschool age) did a great job and I didn’t fault any of them on their performance. I’m just kind of over the participation medal being called an “award”.

A similar situation irked me on a run recently. I was going along a usual route one morning when I noticed a sign in a yard. The sign read “Sportsmanship Athlete of the Week”. Why did this get me so riled up? Well, because I’m tired of people giving out awards and recognition for things that we should be doing anyway! Continue reading “Meditation Monday #19: How Yoga Am I? – Trouble with Participation Trophies”

Fave Reads Friday #4: Deep Thoughts

At the beginning of April I had this serious stack of books that I was going to read and have just finally finished the first one in the pile. Not because it wasn’t a good read; I just hadn’t been devoting enough time to reading or at least to book reading. The first book I finished in the pile was

I read an older version than this one.

Learned Optimism by Martin E. Seligman and it probably could be found under self-help, psychology, and yoga in the library because it ties in nicely to a lot of the principles of yoga we’ll be discussing on Meditation Mondays in June.

This book was a tough read for me emotionally because it dealt with some serious issues and was also a great read because it make me think…. A LOT! Here’s the best of what I got out of this book: Continue reading “Fave Reads Friday #4: Deep Thoughts”

The Gifts of Yoga

I have started this post several times over and then time got away from me. I had to postpone writing it over the weekend, so it’s going to be a compilation to reflect the last four days and my resolution for all four is the same:

Days 21-24: Enjoy and pursue further the gifts yoga has given me.

In Gates’ book he revisits the same quote by Einstein for several days; pulling a different message from it each time. I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but yoga has given me four distinct, yet intertwined gifts: Awareness, Balance, Flexibility, and Strength.

Yoga has made me far more aware of many things in my life. It has probably impacted me in this way more than the flexibility, strength, and balance it has given me. I am aware of my body and my breath and this trickles over into my every day. On Tuesday night last week, while teaching class, I was extremely aware of the fact that one of my legs is longer than the other. I was in standing forward fold and had to continually pick one of my feet up in an attempt to rearrange my position and make myself feel even. It didn’t work. I had to remind myself that this was not my practice.

I am inherently aware of my body landing and moving when I run; my pacing. Friday morning on my run I was very aware of my breath. I kept Truffle Shuffle turned down a little to hear the noises I make when I run. It was a lesson….it always is.

I am aware when I teach at the college that my meditations with the class are interrupted by my need to keep an eye on the clock. I am aware that they are watching me and that while I need not judge them, myself, or allow their judgements to affect me…..that I’m still always aware.

As I get older and more practiced I am more aware of what I need in life. Part of the reason for this 30 days of resolutions is to become more aware of what I do need more of and what I could do without.

On Friday, the gift of awareness spread to my running more than anything. I had run the same course 11 times over the previous 19 days. Only twice had I broken 9:00/mile on the run. I know that some of that has to do with my body, the weather, time of day, etc. But I think that not hitting it that morning was more about me being bored with the route than anything else. I have another route of the same distance in my portfolio of runs on MapMyRun, so I vowed to change courses. On Sunday I did and I crushed it. It was smoother and easier even though there were hills. It wasn’t as routine as the other course had become and that made it more enticing to run. It was a course I’d done many times before, but it was a change of pace that I needed.

My weekend was packed, busy, with birthday party prep. I picked my mom up on Friday and went nonstop until she left Sunday evening. I needed the strength to get through it all. There was cake making and cake pop making and cookie making and pie baking and dinner to provide. But more so than the mental strength, I needed the physical strength on Saturday. We constructed a new bed for the birthday boy that day; assembling the project that my husband had built and I had painted; now inside the house in pieces. There were challenges to surmount and heavy things to hold up. Thank goodness for all of the arm work I’d done that week to help me feel prepared for that challenge. I also stood most of the day and by the time it was over…….I was glad I’d skipped my morning run.

Sunday drew on my flexibility of character as well as body. I had to squeeze in to the back seat of my Honda Civic between two car seats for more than one ride that day. I felt like Elastigirl. It was a 5 year old’s birthday party at our house and the first time we’d done party games and a pinata. I kept hearing myself inside my head saying…..breathe……it’s alright if it’s not perfect…..if it’s not all done. I felt myself enjoying the time at the party more than I have at any previous birthday experience. I feel like I smiled more that whole day. Maybe it was the change in course on my morning run; maybe my yoga has finally started to invade all of the little spaces of my life I need it to touch? I even turned over the camera for the party in order to try and get in some shots.

Throughout the whole weekend I looked for balance. Balance in the way that I handled tasks and also handed them off. I really leaned on my mom and my husband to pull things together with me, but also tried to hold my own. Some of that balance meant not running Saturday morning so that I could ease into my day. Some of that balance involved not running this morning when completely exhausted from the weekend. It also involved me getting back into some semblance of routine today with the kids despite the actual birthday being today. There was lunch dessert and dinner dessert, but there was also quiet time at home instead of more exuberant celebrations from the day before. The day was special, simple, without confetti and fireworks, just calls and texts from family and friends and a lot of snuggling.

Yoga has given me the awareness to step back and realize how great I have it. It has also given me the awareness to look forward to the future; to examine the present and keep things in check; and to let go of the past where I cannot change things. Yoga keeps me balanced and teaches me to be flexible in life. Yoga has made me stronger, but has also allowed me to be me more and therefore cultivate strong relationships and perspective.

On this yoga journey, this path to enlightenment, the last four days have made me feel like the road ahead is not so long…..

What was the best day of your life?

What has yoga/fitness given you?