I’ve been on a quest lately to find some movement, some exercise that works for me and, most importantly, that I like. Easier said than done. Yesterday, I went to my first PiYo class. (Or, as I’m now calling it, PiNo.) I went in hopeful after a friend had such positive things to say about her experience. Things got off to a good start. I liked the instructor instantly. I even met another woman and her daughter with whom I hit it off.
That’s where the goodness ended. True to my friend’s warning, the class was an ass-kicker with challenging sequences and a quick pace. I struggled with following along and keeping up with the routines. Granted, I am out of shape and not as coordinated as I used to be. What ultimately got me was the heat. This instructor turns up the heat in the room so you can “feel the heat from the outside in.” Great. For someone like me who overheats easily, this is a personal hell and a deal breaker.
I kept looking at the clock, doing the math as to how many minutes were left in the class. In my head, I was calculating the effects of the heat and my fatigue, wondering whether I could tough it out and complete the class or would just pass out. My ego was spurring me on: “Come on! You should be able to do this! You’re not that old! Besides, you don’t want to quit. Walk out in the middle of the class. Imagine how that will look. What will everyone think?”
And there it was. My fear and resistance all tangled up in a gnarly ball of judgment. Was I really concerned about the judgment of a bunch of women I didn’t know (many of them older than me) if I left the class? Maybe a little. Really, though, I was judging myself and far more harshly than any of those women might have judged me. Let’s face it, they probably didn’t give my leaving a second thought because they didn’t care—and they probably didn’t see me leave through the sweat that was obscuring their vision. But I cared, or at least my ego cared, and that’s where the problem lies—literally and figuratively.
My PiNo experience is just one of too many recent examples of the epic tug o’ war battle raging between my ego and my soul. I told a friend it reminds me of the rope toy our dog McKenna plays with. She's either locked in a to-the-death battle with whomever or whatever is pulling on the other end of the rope. Or, left on her own, McKenna will just run around flagellating herself with the rope.
In my case, at one end of the rope is fear…
- Fear that the money will run out
- Fear of getting older
- Fear that I’m not doing enough
- Fear that my life won’t matter
- Fear that I won’t find my purpose
- Fear that time is running out
The list goes on and on, but I’ll spare you that. I suspect you may have a similar list of your own.
All this fear causes resistance. Resistance to making investments that serve me, resistance to the beauty that is now, resistance to engaging and connecting, resistance to joy, and resistance to being open and allowing what wants to be.
At the other end of the rope is my heart and soul desperately trying to maintain some balance.
Here’s the thing: In this battle, there is no winner. Someone has to let go, to refuse to engage in the conflict. Conflicted is how I have felt much of the time. It’s an exhausting and painful game.
Then I decided to do something radical. I decided to drop the rope—to accept the feelings, to accept where I am right now, to accept who I am in every moment. But accept does not mean reject. Rejection causes resistance too, and resistance only causes suffering.
When I shared my PiNo experience with a friend, she thought my journey to finding exercise that suits me would make a great “How Siobhan got her groove back” post. I think she was on to something. Except instead of fitness, it’s simply accepting me for who I am and who I am not that will get my groove back and keep it grooving.
There’s a great passage in Susan David’s book Emotional Agility about grit vs. quit:
"There’s no shame—in fact there’s actually a lot of virtue—in making a logical, heartfelt choice. Instead of looking at these transitions as giving up, look at them as moving on. You’re letting yourself evolve and grow along with your circumstances, choosing a new path that is full of possibility. That decision is filled with grace and dignity."
If something isn’t serving you, walk away.
For me, it means walking away from the fear, surrendering the resistance, and accepting all of it.
Just drop the rope.
There’s peace in that.
And now I need to walk away before my glutes and quads stiffen anymore and I can’t get out of my chair.