Learning lessons the hard way

I have never been a person who was able to avoid heartache and hardship by listening to the advice of others. I think I’ve gotten better as I’ve gotten older, but I still have a nasty stubborn streak that often leads me to do things my own way. This is inevitably the more difficult path. I frequently need to learn life’s lessons multiple times, just to make sure it’s really solidified. As someone who lives mainly in the present, I can find it hard to keep hold of long-term goals or to consider something in terms of its future benefits. This sometimes translates as a need for not quite instant (but close) gratification. Planning for more than a few months ahead is something I find nearly impossible, and this is an aspect of myself that I would like to change (no problem, right?). This intro could totally lead me into a whole post about my struggles with aparigraha, but I’ll save that for another time. In fact, I could go on about my painfully human flaws forever, but what brought on this line of thought today is that I’m sick. Nothing life threatening, just a bad cold. No big deal, one might say, get rest and drink lots of fluids! I find this incredibly difficult for a number of reasons. For starters, I have missed the last three mornings of practice, which I hate. My body and mind suffer a little when I don’t go – I need my ashtanga fix. I get these ridiculous fears about my asana practice like, what if I can’t drop back anymore when I go on Sunday? I know this is silly, but the thoughts come regardless. Without that meditative time on my mat, I also miss out on the important, if brief, shutting down of all that mental chatter, even if I only manage it for a short time. I rarely consider the stresses of life while practicing, my mind may wander but it is usually always related to practice. It’s like hitting the refresh button and it helps me to maintain some sense of peace (or perhaps just keeps me from being a much crankier, more difficult person). Another thing about being sick is missing work. To say I am extremely tied up in my role would be an understatement. I believe my career chose me. It is a big part of who I am and how I identify my worth in the world. I love being in social work, and I care very much about the clients on my caseload. Missing unplanned days means I’m letting people down, not being able to be there when I’m expected or needed. I find that hard to live with, and I feel guilty. I could go on about that for pages, but I’ll leave it there. Finally, getting sick challenges my delusion of being invincible. It forces me to acknowledge that I push my body beyond it’s capacity to cope, and it tells me I need to slow down by getting this cold. This cycle has been going on for somewhere around seven years, but I have yet to actually follow my body’s directive. I do worry that sometime in the future I will get sick in some more serious way as a result of being stressed, over-worked, and tired, and should that happen I would have no one to blame but myself because it’s all self-induced. Ah yes, my first world problems are on display in abundance, and while I should be grateful for the wonderful life and general good health I enjoy, I do allow myself to wallow in a bit of “poor me”  once in a while. No matter what, I’m insisting to my self that I’ll be better by Sunday because David Robson will be here and I refuse to miss the opportunity to practice with him! And yes, I have learned the lesson about slowing down and taking care of myself this time 😉

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