On Listening to What I Need Now


May 14 2019

Gold Tape

On Listening to What I Need Now

I tried jamming yoga into my schedule.

For months, I made myself go, even though I really didn’t feel like it. I pulled out all my productivity tricks: checklists, resolutions, accountability, a subscription. No matter what I tried, I still resisted it.

I kept telling myself, Don’t forget – a regular yoga practice cured your shoulder before.

One day, I figured out the problem.

I was in a flow class, and had to leave the room because I felt nauseous. As I took deep breaths of fresh air, it occurred to me: I haven’t left a class unscathed in months. Every session had ended in an injury, a headache, or a bad feeling.

Maybe it’s not me —  Maybe it’s yoga. 

My body was trying to warn me.

Of course I was resisting yoga class. Every time I went, I felt miserable, hurt, like a failure.

Instead of listening to my body, I was shouting over it. This helped before! You’re not trying hard enough!

I learned my lesson: I have to listen to what I need now.

Our needs are so individual. What helps one person will hurt another. What helped one person in the past might hurt the same person in the present.

When others describe their problems, I refrain from blurting out unsolicited advice. I want to help, but ‘Have you tried ____?’s are not actually helpful.

I showed my masseuse where my shoulder hurts.

She pointed me to the muscles I need to strengthen to support it: the back muscles around my spine.

Huh. Those are climbing muscles.

In forcing together my fitness schedule, my reasoning went like this:

  • Go to yoga to heal your shoulder.
  • Go climbing because it’s fun. It’s FUN! You will ENJOY YOURSELF!

(Yeah. My inner monologue is really annoying in this essay).

With this new information, the plan shifted:

  • Take a break from yoga.
  • Go climbing to heal your shoulder. If you have fun too, great. But no pressure!

My revised wellness plan includes weekly bouldering. I go as soon as Alien opens at 11am, when it’s quiet.

I climb for about 30 minutes. I considered forcing myself to stay for at least an hour, to make the day pass worth it, I reasoned. That’ll show me!

But I reminded myself of Captain Marvel’s words: ‘I have nothing to prove to you’.

I can play this wisdom on others, but also on myself. Especially when my inner monologue is acting like Yon-Rogg.

Every day I write down one lesson I learned.

Often, those lessons repeat. I have to learn them over and over.

Listening to what I need… Didn’t I already write about that? Is this too much like my ‘Rush No More’ essay?

I don’t want to be repetitive with my essays, but also… that’s how learning goes.

It was Steve who made sense of my repetition – ‘It’s like teaching Snug to give paw in different places,’ he reminded me. We learned that Snug needs to practice her tricks in different contexts. ‘Paw’ in our flat is different from ‘paw’ in the garden, or the park, or our friend’s flat.

It’s the same with human habits. No two experiences are exactly alike. While the same lesson may apply, we must learn it again in a new context.

I learned to listen to my needs in an immersive theatre setting. Then I had to learn to listen to my needs in a fitness setting. I’m sure I’ll have to learn it somewhere else again soon.

Paw in different places,

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