If you want to change something, let go of the story you’ve created.
I’ve recently moved back home after living abroad for almost 4 years. I learned a lot in my time in overseasland: a new language and culture, Ashtanga yoga, how not to be a wife, how to save a marriage, what I don’t like about myself, and why I deserve to be loved as I am.
However, what I haven’t learned is how to stop justifying my existence. I’m currently attending an Asthanga Yoga intensive with Zephyr Mercer in Cape Town, a city I have a love-hate relationship with. I have a love-hate relationship with most things, especially myself. I’ve been practicing on my own for a few months now since I left Germany and my last trip to Mysore, and being back in the room with a qualified teacher has made me have a little look at myself through the practice and ask the question: why am I resigned to the position that I will never be able to do certain asanas because of my history of poor health?
Today the answer is: because I am scared of what I am without the story I’ve told myself. Because I love the story and hate myself for not feeling like I’m good enough as I am.
So let’s re-hash the story to give you some context: I’ve had digestion issues my whole life. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I went from specialist to specialist to psychologist and back to specialists. I had all the tests, pipes in awkward places, pills and eventually an emergency operation to remove a part of small intestine that had lost its peristalsis and was twisting around threatening to explode. So, at the tender age of 16, they removed a part of my small intestine that had, in effect, died and sent me on my way. Then there was the difficult healing process, infections, bleeding, and the iron treatment. Fast forward several years, the doctors couldn’t confirm a diagnosis or deny the issue any longer. Long story short: I started keeping a food diary and practicing yoga and tried to manage the rest with iron tablets, blood tests and being brutally honest with myself.
No one told me I had to change, but unless I changed my lifestyle, I was always going to be sick and in pain. I stopped drinking, started sleeping more, changed my diet and began practicing Ashtanga yoga. Everything is much better now. I would go as far as to say I’m healthy! Why do I hang onto this story as a reason for my hips being tight and my current inability to put my leg behind my head in Second Series? Why am I so determined to let my past affect my future and determine what I will and won’t be able to do? Why am I so afraid to be where I am?
Today’s answer: because I can’t do the posture yet and feel I need an excuse as to why I’m not progressing, so let’s hold onto my story.
Truth: The story has shaped a lot of decisions I have made and still do make because it’s something I live with, but if I’m being honest, my diseased bowel has nothing to do with me getting into Eka Pada Sirsasana. It’s actually fine if you can’t do something just yet.
Today, a mirror was lovingly held in front of me and I can now see there is a difference between something that’s affecting me now that I need to acknowledge and a story from long ago that I’m carrying with me. My hips are tight and it’s going to take longer than I want it to, so what? If we want to change, evolve, improve and accept what is, we have to let go of the story we’ve told ourselves. We won’t disappear. We will continue to Be; we’ll just have less to say about ourselves. And, what a relief for the Ego!