It’s funny to look back on my most recent blog posts and realize so many of them were written in effort to remind myself: BE PATIENT!
Those posts are like affirmations made in a mirror.
I have never had patience; it’s my biggest problem. It’s the root of all my anxieties. It’s probably part of how I became such a workaholic.
This week I added Bhuja Pidasana to my yoga practice. The first day I learned it I really struggled to hold the balance. I wanted to try again and again until I got it (impatient, as always), but after the third attempt my teacher made me stop. He said after three tries of anything I was only going to frustrate myself. “Three tries, and then move on. Know that you still have tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, and the rest of your life.”
As long as I keep trying I’m bound to get it eventually. I’m absolutely certain of it…and that certainty both surprises and comforts me.
I also went back to struggling with Marichyasana D. Apparently I just couldn’t keep my shoulder in the right place to prevent myself from slipping out while binding. At one point I said to Michael “This is so infuriating — I had it for those few days!” He told me this was normal, especially now that I was learning a new pose. It’s funny how yoga works like that, how as I advance, things I learned earlier in the series often become difficult in a new way.
All of this had me thinking again how my yoga practice is so much like writing. How if I can’t get a chapter working right, if I can’t get the conflict with a character just so, I need to remember: there’s the next day, and the day after that, and the rest of my life to figure it all out. There’s no point in being frustrated. As long as I keep writing, keep practicing, it’ll come together. It’s just a matter of time and perseverance. (“Just.” Though in reality those two things are hard enough on their own.)
And it’s okay that sometimes I make a change to my novel and try something new to improve one section of it…only to find that another aspect is suffering as a result. All of it will balance it out eventually. But it’s important that I do try those new things, that I’m willing to experiment, to go further.
As I was walking out the other day Michael said, “And you were going to quit because of your ankle.” I knew what he meant: I myself couldn’t believe how far I had come, and how once upon a time I might’ve so easily walked out of the studio and never returned. I’d had a long history of injuries and never expected to end up quite so dedicated to my practice.
When I first began learning Ashtanga I was so inflexible my hands would only go a few inches past my knees if I tried to bend over and touch the ground with straight legs. Now I’ve been practicing for almost a year and a half, and the changes to my body are remarkable. Earlier this year when a friend asked me if I was doing headstands yet I scoffed and said, “I won’t be doing that for years!” Little did I know that only a few months later I would start adding them to my finishing sequence.
What’s thrilling about yoga is that I still have so much to learn. I will always have so much to learn. I think that’s what has taught me the most about patience. The knowledge that there is still so much ahead, and it’s just a matter of time.
I’ve been trying to apply that same philosophy and certainty to my writing, but I think what makes it harder is that my yoga practice is meant to be an internal pursuit, whereas a part of being a writer is having the desire to share stories with the world. Sometimes I can’t help but feel crushed by the impatience of not having a story done enough to be read by someone outside myself.
I need to remember that for writing, just like for yoga: I have so much to learn. I will always have so much to learn. And that should be thrilling, not daunting.