I am a person of urgency and not enough. As I unpack my life, bit by bit, attempting to source an understanding of where I might find a core of peace and self acceptance, the excruciating truths are my teachers.
Family folklore is adamant that I learned to swim before I could walk. I believe that I progressed from swimming to running. It’s only been in my sixth decade that I’ve mastered the art of measured leisure walking. As a child whenever my feet were planted on the ground, I began to run. There never seemed to be enough time to get where I wanted to be or needed to go. My brain told me that I would be late, miss something, or be forgotten. There was only here or there.
As our heavy sedan lumbered down the steep hill to the back of our cottage, I could feel my heart quicken – the lake shimmering beyond the front window. In minutes I was on the dock, fingers poised at my mouth for a loud whistle to announce my arrival to friends at the end of the bay. It was agonizing to have to help with the unpacking. With my agitation peaking, I would be released and run barefoot along the path to the cluster of cottages belonging to my friends. The tree roots, rocks, pinecones, and lake views along the way were undetected in my rush.
In high school I competed in track and field as a sprinter. I was the first runner on our relay team – a natural place for someone who was always bursting out of the blocks, even when there weren’t any. As a university student I worked for a summer in a hospital in the interior of BC. I was teased often about how quickly I walked, “is there a fire?” Perhaps within.
Also hardwired into my being is the notion of insufficiency. I am not a hoarder of paper products and canned goods. My mentality of scarcity is personal. When I ran distances, I always held back, fearful I would be unable to finish. The finish was more important than the race. I’m prone to leaving coffee at the bottom of my cup, a water glass with two gulps left, a half carrot in the bag, and one green onion that ends up slimy or dried up at the bottom of the crisper. Empty is a scary concept.
In recovery I have learned that alcoholism is a disease of perception – in my case the perception of not enough. There’s not enough, it’s not enough, I’m not enough. Even before I had my first drink, that was my belief system. It was the fuel that propelled me to go faster, achieve more, have more, make more – thinking I would find myself eventually in an oasis of peaceful contentment.
Recently I have been a part of a twenty-day Sadhana – a one-hour spiritual practice through guided Iyengar yoga. Our first session was at our teacher’s studio. We arrived to mats set on the floor, and beside each 3 large beige folded cotton blankets, two blocks, a blue strap, and an elongated bolster. Megan explained with reverence the importance of each prop and instructed us on how to bundle them together for transport. She then proceeded to demonstrate the different folding techniques for the blankets, lengthwise in an accordion fashion for low elevation, short side fold over for more height. “Keep them nearby.” I couldn’t fathom taking the time to use the paraphernalia and props provided.
It turns out that Iyengar yoga focuses on detail, precision, and alignment. The procedure to get into each pose is critical to the success of the asana. As a self defined outcome rather than process person I was catapulted into a measured unfolding of specifics that conflicted with my racing thoughts.
We are now on day 16 of our practice. Each morning at 7:30 I am choosing to breath more slowly, pay attention to the minutiae of each joint in my body, watch and listen to instruction on how to set up for each asana, then methodically place my props and gently position my body.
It challenges my brain more than taking the posture to my edge. That’s the truth.