A couple of weeks ago, I received a profound email from Gabrielle Scanlon on the topic of Mindfulness. The subject line read: Boring is as boring does... in yoga too! Gabrielle is the author of The Hot Yoga Doctor, and I've learned some amazing teaching tips and cuing from her over the years.
I was deeply challenged by her message in many ways. She wrote it specifically about mindfulness in Hot Yoga, but since it is a topic I've also blogged [See: Mindfulness & Living in the Moment and Less Than Perfect Can Bring Results] about in the past and was so moved by what she wrote, I'm going to share and paraphrase it for my readers from a broader perspective.
So although I don't believe there is a Magic Pill to help people overcome the challenges associated with change, Scanlon does an amazing job of pointing out that the magic of change is located in your ability to stay present and connected to what you're doing.
Paraphrase will be highlighted in black, my changes in blue. Enjoy!
Ever heard one of your yogi friends say "I am bored with this exercise menu ... I can't stand to do the same thing again! I am bored."
Do you want to hear what we've always told our daughter if she has ever said: "I'm bored"?
We tell her 'bored' is not something you ARE it is something you DO.
So the answer to that question is ... "What are you doing to bore yourself?"
Same goes for mind body programming like posture alignment therapy, corrective exercise, pilates, Bikram or hot or any yoga at all. If you are bored because you're doing the same thing over and over again there are some good reasons for that:
It's possible that you are so used to doing the class that your mind has completely switched off. We often call this "going on auto-pilot".
Auto-pilot mode is very useful. You do want to know how to do MOST of your everyday things without thinking about the HOW of doing it.
However, the problem with auto-pilot is ... drum roll ... is
that MANY mind/body practitioners and yogis confuse it with 'being present'.
In fact, auto-pilot is as far from mindfulness and being present as you can get. Presence is reveling in, wallowing in, noticing what's going on.
How do you make the switch?
As a student of mind/body work you know that you can approach any activity with mindfulness - even your automatic ones. Sounds a little funky or even impossible to have to dial back on automation.
But really it's about noticing what's going on.
Let's bring it down to earth with a concrete example. You have to be SO happy that you can drive (if you can) with enough skill that you don't have to think about how to use the pedals (and gears) and how to steer a car.
If you were totally automatic with no mindfulness then there would be even more accidents than there already are. Nobody would be safe crossing the roads. We respond automatically to so many things but it's the mindfulness that hones great skill, shows enormous dedication and is THE thing that will turn you into a specialist.
Mindfulness is about doing things and NOT settling for the way it's always been done just because you've always done it that way.
It's important - especially because it's corrective exercise or YOGA - to pay attention to the little tiny details of every movement, what a move does to your body and how it FEELS ... because that's how you are learning to be in the moment.
You can notice whether what you do, what you've been doing, serves your body well. Or. Not.
You can therefore let your intuition ride high and let you be discriminating about the WAY things effect you.
You see, it's not at all good enough to assume that anything that's said to you EVER is exactly the right thing for you.
[Aside: And if you really give it some thought, the reason we get offended and insulted by words is that in order to be offended we actually BELIEVE what's been said.]
Don't presume that the script or any instructions are correct.
That's what being present is about.
Even if you've heard those instructions a thousand times before. ESPECIALLY if you've heard them one thousand times before.
I have said it before: The Magic and The Learning Is In The Details. It's in the curiosity of applying what you hear and how you process it differently, with a different twist. Get off the 'same old same old' train and add some life to your practice.
Do that by really listening. Listen to the words that your instructor coaches you with. Apply them literally or figuratively. But use your inner wisdom skills to actually stop and set up your exercises, evaluate what you are doing and the outcome of them, to assess whether what you hear is exactly what you're doing.
If it doesn't feel right then you have to communicate with your coach/instructor so you can come up with creative ways to do something different and arrive at the same overall outcome. Maybe it's because what you hear cannot be purely interpreted in every body the same way. In other words, what assumptions are you making to make sense of what’s being said?
You probably already know what I believe: It IS always better to attend a class that is not the same recited script every time.
But HONESTLY the difference is always, ALWAYS going to be down to you.
Every. Single. Time.
Wow. I couldn't agree any more! When you are working to overcome chronic muscle and joint pain with the profound simplicity of a mind/body program, be it Corrective Exercise, Posture Alignment Therapy, Pilates, Yoga, or anything like it, The Magic and The Learning Is In The Details.
You HAVE to be fully present to increase your kinesthetic awareness and maximize the results. Your body has a blue-print design and in my opinion, can heal if given the opportunity. That means we can't just go through the motions without being aware.
That's exactly what got you into the chronic pain problem in the first place. I'd really love to know what you think about Gabrielle's email, so please share your thoughts in the comment box below. And as always, if you have questions, let me know. Remember, we're in this together, and I am here to help!