I’m about to nerd out hard on you guys!
Basically, I’ve been super busy lately and haven’t had any time to cook, eat healthy, workout or anything for myself really. Which is fine, because this is the life I chose and it’s only for one more year. I can do it!
Ever since I moved to L.A. I’ve had a hard time relaxing. My mind is whirring a million miles a minute. I have too many places to go, too many things to do and it never ends. I have at least 3 “organizing” apps on my phone and computer with variations of my “to do list”, not counting my calendar!
All this is a new development. Until last year, I lived in a small, slow surfer town. I worked 8-4:30 Mon-Fri and had the rest of my life to myself. Not that I used my time wisely. But I could have if I wanted to. In Santa Cruz my yoga practice began, grew and flourished. I finally learned what it was like to “be in the moment”, forgetting time while you breathe and move. Repetitive movements and rhythmic breathing can lift you up and let your heart sing.
Until it can’t. And you can’t. And your mind is stuck in a loop. You want to relax, but you can’t stop thinking about everything you have to do! Ever! No matter how hard you work out or how hard you zen, you just can’t get to that moment.
Every time I try to practice yoga, my mind gets into a flurry and I can’t stop thinking of how I’m supposed to be relaxing. Then I feel like a failure for not relaxing right! As if I need that stress, right? At this point even thinking about practicing is aversive for me because I know I just won’t be able to do it.
Then I did something brave. I emailed a professor about my problem (it tied into the last few weeks of class and she’s into yoga) and she wrote me back and totally helped me out!
She explained that in moving, starting a new job and a new school I’ve been training my brain to engage in more verbal behavior all the time. New places, tons of reading, new responsibilities and a LOT more driving! So of course it makes sense that now, when I try, I can’t put my inner monologue on hold. I’ve been training myself to do more, think more, notice more for the last year!
She gave me some good advice that I’ve been following and I think it’s going to help me get back to my practice. I’m forgetting about yoga, and practicing meditation. I put on some nature sounds, lay on the floor with my feet flat, hands on my stomach and breathe in and out, pushing my stomach in and out as much as I can with each breath. I have a saying I repeat (a mantra), it can be different each time or the same. I repeat it to myself while breathing. If I catch myself thinking about something else, I start counting. If I catch myself thinking about something else while counting, I switch back to my mantra. I set a timer for 5 minutes and that’s all I’ve been doing.
It’s the best advice anyone could have given me. I’m relaxing more, a little bit at a time. I’m retraining my brain to relax and stop engaging in constant inner verbal monologues. And since the time is so short, it’s super easy which makes me feel confident and successful! It’s a small victory but a victory nonetheless. A lesson that sometimes, when the task is too hard you need to cut back your expectations!
I will gradually increase my time, then bring yoga practice back into my life when I’m ready. I have to give myself time to shape my private verbal behavior back to where I need to be!