When I first became an instructor I dedicated myself to being THE BEST. I worked 7 days a week, taught over 30 classes and did each class full-out. In addition, I trained for triathlons, endurance races, yoga, martial arts and anything that tickled my fancy. Easily bored, always wanting MORE, I had a complete inability to be still, enjoy silence or respect my limitations.
Eventually I got hurt. Now you’d think I’d slow down but no. I would just switch my routine until that particular wound healed. No rest for this warrior. I conditioned myself to ignore my aches and pains. I wielded my ego like a sword and the two edges were always being sharpened on flesh and bone, my flesh, my bones.
Only as I grew more tired, the injuries mounted, was I willing to accept that I wasn’t really trying to be the best. I was hoping to be seen as the best by others. I had married all my insecurities and turned them into my strengths. I was seeking approval. I wasn’t ready to stop beating myself up or to accept that, in reality, there was always a sinking feeling that I was “not good enough.”
Feeling “good enough” about myself and maintaining athletic perfection became an obsession. I’d see a picture of myself with 6% body fat and wonder what would I need to do to be at 4%. Wouldn’t life be better if I were even leaner? I had to own my truth and eat a big slice of humble pie. This is why aging is not for wimps.
Today I own the maturity to approach exercise with a Beginner’s Mind. In fact, the work now is infinitely more challenging. I am stronger mentally and physically though admittedly not as fast. I no longer view things in black-and-white terms nor am I seeking the adulation of strangers. This is the philosophical foundation and the meaning of EXERCISE CONSCIOUSLY.
Practicing humility is a process. You have to strip away old habits to make room for new behavior. You need to keep yourself present and have tools to bring you back to the present moment when you are triggered. Now I allow myself the freedom to fail but not too much freedom.