How To Do The Impossible: Part 3


Step 5: Do What You Can Do – RIGHT NOW. Keep on doing it.

In early November 2012 I was rear-ended and it left me with bad tendinitis in both forearms and re-breaks in my healed ankles that had broken 2 years ago.

I hadn’t been to a formal yoga class in seven months.

I was absolutely forbidden to do any yoga at all for the first three months, through the holidays. That killed – because the holidays are traditionally the time we all put on a bit more weight.
And I’d been doing well up to then, losing over 117 pounds so far. Keeping up with a daily practice and three times a week in the studio felt so good, and kept me on the losing side of the holiday spread & weight gain.

Damn. I hated missing that.

But, I was more than taken up with the sudden new load of physical therapy though. I spent hours a day at it both in the therapy office and at home because I didn’t want to linger in the unwell state.

The physical therapists said they were amazed at my dedication. I was amazed that any patient they had would NOT be dedicated to getting the hell out of there as soon as possible.

People do like to stay in their ruts.

 The Lesson Here: Do what you can do. Bitch about it if you need to, but don’t bellyache for too long. Just pull  your socks up and get on with what you know is needed, even if you don’t want to, or it blows, or you can’t yet do what you really want to…yet. Just Do It.

And, while I’ve been in intense physical therapy and can’t stand for long or support weight on my arms just yet, I have gotten my strength back to the point that I’ve been managing a decent walk or two a week for the past month or so, and it doesn’t keep me from getting on the mat in some fashion.

But it didn’t start out that way.

I’m a bit of a perfectionist (ring any bells?) and had it in my head that I needed to be able to do the WHOLE DAMN 90 minute yoga class…or nothing. So I sat on my ass for months not doing yoga until I remembered this phase of the process:

Do What You Can Do NOW….and keep doing it.

Plus, I’ll add this codicil: Be of Immense Good Cheer, No Matter What.

You can always be a misery-guts but it will get you more things to be miserable about. Law of Attraction really does work this way.

Long ago, I resolved to be of Immense Good Cheer and it’s worked a charm in attracting so much good stuff in my life. Plus which, I may be down for the count, but I *feel* like a million bucks! Can’t buy that. And can’t touch it with external circumstances, no matter how bad.

Thus armed, I took inventory of what I could do. Using the yoga poses chart on my wall, I marked in red any lying down and supported pose I was able to do:

…paschimotanasana, ananda balasana, supta padangusthasana, virasana and badda konasana, viparita karani, uttana shishosana, janu sirsasana, anantasana, salabhasana, balasana, upavistha konasana, inverted dandurasana, bridge, matsayasana, eka pada rajakapotanasana, simhasana (which I love and do the three roars with) and the venerable cat/cow.

Upstanding, I found I could do chair supported uttanasana, malasana, limited tadasana, urdhva hastasana, and oddly, prasarita padottanasana. They were all a stretch given that my body had lain mostly dormant for six months, but I could do them.

If you’re a yogini, you know this list may look like a lot but it was a damn sight short of a full flow, even a simple sun salutation. Virabhadrasana simply isn’t possible, nor is chaturanga, plank or down dog. I was letting that stop me.

Silly me!

When I took a look at what I *could do*, I was surprised to find so many poses. So I made up my own flow and went through them, albeit jerkily.

And it hurt. After so long away, my hamstrings had shortened back down and my muscles, so long away from their thrice weekly workout, moaned and complained. But I know that’s a good sign, and not pain as a result of injury, so I’m not letting it stop me.

Some days all I can manage is a chair supported uttanasana (forward folding bend with elbows on a low stool). Some days I cat/cow for ages before other muscles are willing to move.

The point is, I’m not giving up.

Neither should you, if you’re faced with something that looks impossible, but you know you’ve got to do it.

I have to do this. If I don’t, I may lose the ability to walk and hold weight on my arms. From there it’s a long, slow steady decline towards…

The Chair in the Corner, and the kind of old age I will NOT be having, thank you very much.

So to be fit and get fitter, I’m doing what I can do. And it’s working.

Slowly my muscles are coming back.

Slowly the tone is returning and I’m gaining more endurance.

Slowly I am losing weight again. And every ounce released is another ounce not weighing me down, plumping out my yoga pants.

I’m not perfect about it. Nobody is.

Sometimes I skip a day or two, sometimes nearly a week if too much else is going on. But I get back to it the second I realize I’m off the wagon. Do what you can do. Climb back on the bus and keep on, keeping on…

One last thing about pain as a stopper:

One of the decisions I made early in the 1990’s when my back was newly broken and I had choices about whether or not to go someplace, couldn’t walk at all well, AND was in excruciating agony –  was that pain and difficult circumstances were not going to stop me.

I could stay in and be in pain, or I could go out, use what muscles I had online, get some stimulation by seeing people and doing new things and oh yeah, also be in pain. I had a choice, go out or stay in, but the pain was a side dish served with each. At that time, I didn’t yet have a choice to just have the main course without that painful side dish.

So I chose to be active, anyway.

I chose to go out and do things despite the pain, with the pain, including the pain. That is, until I figured out how to dump the pain pretty much for good.

Just as today I choose to plug away at my physical therapy and doing the yoga I can do, despite the fact that I’m not yet fit enough to go back to a full 90 minute class, cannot yet do a full flow, there’s lack of strength and endurance and yadda-yadda.

As I make this choice every day, so can you, in what you’re doing. As my strength and endurance grow every day, so can yours.

Your confidence in yourself increases when you persevere in spite of pain.

Pain is not an excuse not to participate.

Pain is just a nerve signal.
It can be helpful sometimes but just as often can be misused by the body and misappropriated as a strategy the body is using to get help.

Pain is just a nerve signal.
It is not a permanent state of being…though it may feel like it right now. Breathe into the pain to start dissolving it.

Pain is just a nerve signal.
It is not who you are, it is not your identity.

Breathe deeply into your True Self (just go with the metaphor and it’ll come). Breathe through the pain to discover who you are and what you want as the person you are, and whether you have pain or not will become increasingly immaterial to the quality and content of your life.

Life, the Buddhist masters tell us, is painful. Pain is derived from attachment to things we need to release. That is what causes this suffering mentally, emotionally and physically.

Your task in Doing The Impossible is to do what you can do right now, keep increasing the things you can do, and gently, very gently do what you can release what you’re holding on to that needs to be let go (in my case, clenched muscles and nerves plus limiting beliefs), such that the result is more relaxation, comfort and bliss.

Keep it going.

Pretty soon, like I did, you’ll find you’re not in pain at all any more.

That’s not to say pain won’t return, or be caused by something different, but now you know how to release it if you really want to.

Good luck with that, and….keep it going.

*** With deep thanks to all the yoga teachers past and present who have helped me keep it going: Jean Couch, Michelle Duguay, Paul Grilley, Rebecca Snowball, Misako Matsuoka, Mimm Patterson, Gurutej Kaur, Diane deGeorgio and d. deLarm.




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