“I just feel like it’s not the right choice.” Even before I started practicing yoga, I always trusted my gut instincts. When my parents asked why I wanted to go to college in the middle of Maine, I could only explain it by saying “I loved the feeling when I stepped onto campus.” After college when I was about to move to Kansas to begin a PHD program, it suddenly hit me – “This does not feel like my path.”
Understandably to some people (like my dear sweet parents), these “feelings” seemed like a wobbly source to be relying on for every major life decision. To me, though, it always felt like my truest way of knowing. When I found yoga, I began to understand why. Yoga says that beyond my over-thinking brain and hungry ego, there is something else that when I get still enough and brave enough to listen gives me information that I cannot get anywhere else. Yoga calls it Purusa – I call it that feeling. As good and true as this feeling is, however, I’ve recently realized that it continues to trip me up in one major way.
My teacher, Baron Baptiste, describes it as “not understanding your resistance.” Imagine you come into a yoga pose – let’s say chair pose because ugh, chair pose. You sink deep, squeeze your thighs together and reach your arms high. Then if you feel like me, you’re like “this isn’t feeling good” after the third breath. By the fifth breath, you’re like “screw this – I’m listening to my body instead of this psycho teacher and bailing out.” That is me in chair pose EVERY.SINGLE.TIME not understanding my resistance. See, the pose doesn’t “feel” good because it’s challenging and it’s making me really really uncomfortable. It’s not that I shouldn’t do chair pose – it’s that it’s a hard pose for me.
The last several months have been like a super-long chair pose for me, and I’m learning that I often mistake the difference between things “not feeling right” and me being scared to move out of my comfort zone. It doesn’t mean that I plan to stop listening to that feeling, but it does mean that when that feeling shows up as resistance I am going to take time to look at it and understand it. I no longer want to think that opportunities don’t feel right just because I’m scared to take them. If the last 6 months have taught me anything, it is this: On the other side of being challenged and uncomfortable are the most incredible opportunities for growth and beauty. And I for one, refuse to miss any of those again.