I’m right in the middle of a 31-day yoga challenge. You know, I love challenges. 21 days of meditation. 21 days of clean eating. 30 days of planks. 30 days of squats. The Daniel Fast. I mean you can do anything when the expiration date looms within reach, right? Well, I can anyway.
It might be related to my personality type, or I might think that because I’m a personality quiz junkie. Additionally, I’m obsessed with podcasts, so when Gretchen Rubin recently did a podcast about personality quizzes it was A M A Z I N G. You can listen to it here. If you’re into that kind of thing: I’m an INFJ, an obliger, a 4 on the enneagram–very cool because my favorite number is 4 and in a week, I’m going to be 44, so 2017 is going to be a phenomenal year. I also love other quizzes. My spirit animal is a hawk, my patronus is a manx cat, my celebrity crush is Johnny Depp, The Princess and the Pea is my life in a fairy tale, and Say Anything is my life in an 80’s movie. I am going to stop because I hear one particular friend saying, “I can’t with you right now.”
Might have gotten a bit off course, shockingly. My original point was that sometimes I have trouble sticking with things. Except my husband. Imma stickwitu forever, baby. A few years ago, during the whole pick-a-word-to-describe-your-year/life/goal/focus, I chose “persevere.” I should have tattooed it somewhere on my body like I do with important words because by Valentine’s day, I’d forgotten both the word and what it represented. Oh, right. This year I was supposed to … Oh hi, pretty kitty. Work. In. Progress.
But during the yoga challenge, one phrase loops: Stay on Your Mat. Stay on your mat. stay on your mat. stayonyourmat. In Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton describes wrestling with personal issues and a yoga teacher advising her to stay on her mat. I always try to hold space for my own and others’ feelings, but it’s often the opposite of what I really want to do.
Usually, I want the feelings go away. Make them go away. I want to eat or drink or read or write or otherwise distract myself from unpleasantness. I fight the urge to joke or laugh or hug or comfort or shield the people I love from their pain even when I know I should just BE with them. My mom always tried to make me laugh when I was sad. She would tell my children jokes to stop their tears. She was trying to help. No one wants people they love–especially their children–to feel sad. But avoiding our feelings is more harmful than helpful.
The truth is, if we ignore them, the feelings will return demanding our attention. Consider how shit from childhood crops up with your own kids. Insert whatever your kid does that causes a disproportionately crazy reaction. When my kids’ normal kid behavior brings me to the verge of a mental breakdown, there are deeper things at work in my psyche.
Since this is really important for me and I felt like it might help someone else too, I started a website dedicated simply to “staying on the mat” with people as they struggle with hard feelings. I would love it if you would check it out and share if you’re so inclined.
While writing this I got really cold and discovered that my furnace stopped working at some point. So today, I’m grateful the mat I’m trying to stay on is in front the fireplace. Thanks for sticking it out with me.
P.S. That’s Ruby in puppy pose. She brings kisses, comedy, and an occasional bone to the mat. Here’s to yoga with puppies!