Practising for life

It’s not often that someone tells me repeatedly that I’m amazing, doing everything right, and they wish more people they encountered were like me! But this was the message I got yesterday — and from a psychiatrist of all people. I was referred to him by my GP for the difficulty I’ve been having sleeping. No disrespect to the NHS, but it’s taken so long for the referral to come through that I took matters into my own hands meanwhile, researching CBT for insomnia and managing to improve my Sleep Efficiency (as expressed by the relationship between Total Sleep Time and Time in Bed!). This means I’m still not getting the amount of sleep I want, but I am mostly able to sleep through the night now, rather than being awake from 3am to 6am every night! Result! My clinician was seriously impressed.

I also scored pretty OK on the standard tests that measure depression and anxiety, not because I’m not still feeling pretty low, but I think because my yogic and mindfulness superpowers mean that I don’t so easily let the negative narratives and voice of depression take over in my mind. I can see that everything changes and these are just a rather heavier form of the usual citta vrittis. I mostly continue to look after myself and carry on doing all the usual stuff even if I don’t want to, because in my mind it’s just another practice; I might not always feel like it, but I do it anyway. Even so we still had to walk through the agonising risk assessment of how likely I am to kill myself or my husband… 😦

Do I sound like a weird automaton? It does feel like a slightly odd existence the past couple of months, knowing I feel pretty low in mood, but mostly observing the feelings at a slight distance, giving them a little space, but not enough to allow them to grow too big.

In yoga class last night we were asked to discuss why we came to class. We were meant to be edging our way toward lofty ideas of satsang, but my mat neighbours were foxed by the question (“I come to class to do yoga”) until I suggested it was in comparison to practising by oneself. “You practise at home?” They were full of disbelief. But it’s times like this when the ability to practise at home seems a pretty valuable skill, and one with much broader implications than the ability to launch myself into Handstand! The balance of discipline and self-compassion required to maintain home practice day in day out creates a different relationship with one’s mind and body. A different relationship to the world actually.

Back in the yoga class, it was interesting hearing the many different reasons people had for being there. Mine, last night at least, was that group practice acts as a stepping stone between home practices. It motivates and inspires me, it ensures that I leave the house and talk to people, and I need to remember to eat and hydrate properly in order to manage it physically…. But I didn’t offer these reasons in the class discussion. There was a lovely positive vibe from the others — and that’s also why I come. Gimme some group positivity and I’ll soak it up like a sponge!

I tell my students “we don’t practise yoga to be good at yoga, we practise to be good at life”. Maybe some of them get it and understand what I mean. Though I kind of hope not. I’d rather they were inherently better at life than me and yoga was just a bit of stretchy fun on the side.

4 thoughts on “Practising for life

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  1. I love reading your posts. They are so honest, and authentic, that they cannot fail to touch something deep inside. We are all, to a certain extent, stumbling along in the dark in our brokenness. Satsang reminds us that we’re not alone on the path. Ever.

    Liked by 1 person

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