The primary goal I set for myself a few months ago, the "thing" or "point" toward which to strive as I contend with my current array of upheavals, was this: To get out of my own way.

To get out of my own way. It lacks specificity and shape, but it encapsulates what I most want in life. To move and to act according to my own sense of what I should do, without hobbling or discouraging myself. I have experienced this before. Over the last several years I have gradually draped myself with threads spun from guilt and apology, self-abnegation. It happened slowly, one strand at a time, but it all accumulated to the point where I couldn't move or speak without tripping or getting tangled up in it. It gets everywhere: in my eyes and sinuses, around my shins and wrists, into my throat and heart. It mats my hair and dulls my skin. It hangs from my elbows like Spanish moss.

A secondary goal, not quite as amorphous, has become legible in the little window at the bottom of my Magic 8-Ball: Say "yes."

Saying "yes" is like cutting and brushing away the cobwebs. It lets me see out, go out, orient my trajectory toward out.
Interval 1 (9 mins running): Kind of a slog, especially the first 5-6 minutes. I felt old and mildly decrepit.

Interval 2 (2 mins walking): Phew! Stretched my arms and upper back. Yawned a lot. Legs started to feel a little bit springier.

Interval 3 (9 mins running): Nice, even, and smooth, like I could keep going at this pace all damn day if I wanted to. I felt like a "real runner" again, for the first time in a couple of years. I run an out-and-back course, and usually turn around about midway through this interval; today I had to go an extra block beyond my usual turnaround point (which means I got to that point about a minute faster than usual).

Interval 4 (2 mins walking): Legs felt a little twitchy, like..."Why are we walking, again? Who's idea was this? Can I speak with the manager, please?"

Interval 5 (9 mins running): Pure play! Legs wanted to sprint and frolic. When I got to the end of this interval, it was hard to convince myself to walk the rest of the way home.

That concludes week 6 of the plan. Next week, I'll be doing 9 minute running intervals broken up by 1 minute walking intervals. I really, really like this plan. It allows me to focus on the running rather than my watch. I do best when I don't have gadgets intruding on my consciousness too often. But also, by emphasizing time spent running rather than distance covered, it seems to short-circuit my tendency to push myself "just a little bit further" than I ought to go.

I'm amazed at the difference it is making, in my body and my mind. I am starting to feel more gregarious again, less inhibited or anxious about socializing with people. Better still, I am feeling genuinely interested in, and excited by, my academic work again.

Now I'm off to shower, and then to Essential Bakery Cafe to meet Sarah for our Destination: Yarn jaunt.


Jun. 14th, 2008 03:26 pm
arguchik: (pretty girl)
I took my first yoga class today. Not my first ever--I have taken exactly 3 classes before, every time as a guest. I've also done some yoga on my own, using books and videos (with OK but not great results, because having a teacher correct the small elements of a pose is so invaluable). The most recent class I took was last Sunday, with my friend L. That class convinced me to get over the inertia hump and sign up for the introductory series at The Yoga Tree, which is right around the corner from my house. So my first class was awesome. I learned a lot, and it has done immediate wonders for my back and my sense of well-being. It also highlighted a few things about my personality--things that I have known for a long time, but tend to forget.

1. When I feel threatened, or when I feel like I will fail or do a bad job at something, I contract away from things. This makes me feel rigid in the world (get your mind outta the gutter, I'm being serious here), balled up, and it has the effect of increasing my anxiety. It becomes almost impossible to open myself to new things, to be resilient in the face of new challenges or possible losses. It's like my self turns into a whirlpool that sucks everything downward and there's no possibility for outward flow. Positive energy turns negative and adds to the ferocity of the spiral, like a big feedback loop.

2. My physical and psychological selves are so linked together that they have an immediate effect on each other. When I use my body in a way that emphasizes my strengths, that lengthens me and opens me up, I almost immediately feel more open psychologically, emotionally (to the extent that that's different), and intellectually. This might sound kind of woo-woo, but it also makes me feel simultaneously more humble, more vulnerable; and stronger, more capable. I feel more inclined to be open to people and things, to the world, to both loss and gain. I feel more accepting of the back and forthness of life, the reciprocity of forces. It's good, because it means that I can address my psychological state through my body. I have been in therapy for awhile now, and I almost feel like yoga (and running, if/when I can get past my tendinitis problems; I simply can't accept the possibility that I have gotten too old for it)--let's just say physical activity is more therapeutic for me than talk therapy. I guess it's particularly effective when they're paired, and in fact trois'ed with journal writing.

3. Which brings me to the third thing that has been reinforced for me today: the importance of reinforcement, repetition, practice. I can't just do this stuff once, or for a little while, and expect to get any long-lasting benefit from it; I have to keep doing it regularly--whether "it" is yoga, running, writing, teaching, or whatever. Feeling good about myself and feeling open to the world is a process; I'm afraid my "natural" or base state, the state to which I revert when I stop expending effort, is one of curling inward and downward, physically and mentally. Paradoxically, that state feels profoundly unnatural to me, and I don't like being in it.

In a little bit I'm going to head to campus to pick up my students' portfolios. Then I'm going to either come back home or go out to a coffee shop to grade-grade-grade-grade-grade. Tonight, hopefully going to see the Old 97's. It's sold out. We're trying to score some tix.


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