I don’t know how to not make these posts super long without breaking them into seven parts. I’m sorry. I love you so much. Documenting the challenge is fun for me so I can get all my thoughts out and then can look back on the posts at the end. (Narcissism.) But if there’s anything you’re particularly interested in, let me know. Or don’t. It’s all good.
When I signed up for this challenge, 40 days sounded like a very long time to do anything. But we’ve already graduated to Week 2! Here’s a recap of what worked during Week 1, what didn’t work, where I really need to make improvements (the crap I eat, the meditation, the endless to-do listing), and what I learned.
Oh and I clearly lied when I said I’d be writing these posts every Monday. Let’s go with every Tuesday instead. Cool? (I know, you don’t care.) Cool.
The theme for the first week of the 40 Days to Personal Revolution challenge was Presence.
So right away I’m thinking, “Great, cool, awesome, I am never ever fully present in my life, so this is a good way to start. I will kick ass at this! I will be so present. I will never be distracted! I will drishti the shit up in this place!”
And then the other night I was eating dinner on the couch while FaceTiming with my mom, while sending emails on my computer, with the TV on in the background.
Soooooo present! Nailed it.
J/K. Failed it.
And then last night, I was doing my assigned reading, and I got through three pages before I realized I had no idea what I’d just read. So I went back to re-read those pages, and then my mom sent me a video of Abby making gurgly noises, so I stopped to watch that, and while I had my phone in my hand I figured I may as well check my email.
But since this experience isn’t pass/fail, this served as a really solid wake-up call for me. The only place I find myself fully present is when I’m in the yoga studio. I’ve gotten a lot better at looking at my time on the mat as my time when nothing else is supposed to get done. I know that during those 60, 75, or 90 minutes, I’m not checking emails, I’m not getting back to people, and I’m not dusting my apartment because honestly how is it so dusty every single day when I swear I dust endlessly? Is it because I live in an east-facing apartment and the sun is always shining in and it highlights the dust on the dark furniture? Please explain.
But beyond the yoga studio, I’m not very present at all. I basically throw the “be here now” notion out the window, and I’m constantly multi-tasking or go-go-going. I’m guessing you can relate, yeah?
I almost always have my phone in my hand. And I’m at a computer for about 80% of the day. I check my phone first thing in the morning and right up until I fall asleep at night. If I wake up during the night to go to the bathroom or if I can’t sleep, I’m scrolling through Instagram. It’s so unnecessary, but it feels like that’s the world we live in. People expect you to be readily available at all times, and you can pretty much always get in touch with someone. Remember when Out of Office replies could say “I won’t have access to email while I’m away” and people actually believed you? LOL THAT’S A LIE. You always have your email.
Anyway. The theme of the week was Presence and it was a great way to kick off the 40 days. I know what I need to focus on in a major way going forward.
For organizational sake, I’ll break these recaps down by “Commitment.”
Daily Yoga Practice
For the first week, we were instructed to practice yoga six days a week for a minimum of 20 minutes per day. I did all of my classes at the studio, which was great, if not completely exhausting. Wednesday was my “off day,” and I took four 60-minute classes, one 75-minute class, and one 90-minute class. Of my six classes, four of them were with Bethany. AKA the toughest teacher at The Den (in my opinion). So one week into the challenge, how do I not have six pack abs and ripped arms yet? What am I doing wrong?
The yoga part is my favorite part of the challenge. I loved all my classes, and the only one I really struggled with was Bethany’s 90-minute on Sunday because it came after I did a semi-long run that morning. Poor planning on my part.
I’m definitely getting stronger and ballsier in the studio. I’m working on my handstand, which is scary, and one time I kicked up too hard and flipped forward and somersaulted out of it. I didn’t snap my neck, though, so that’s exciting.
I start training for the Brooklyn Half-Marathon next week, so I need to figure out how to combine this challenge with running. I can’t just do both full-out because I will probably die. Death by yoga and running. Death by excitement. Death by over-eagerness. I should probably take fewer Bethany classes because I think the goal is to get stronger throughout the challenge, not to consistently linger on the brink of death and have permanently shaky chaturanga arms.
I actually did all of my meditations during the first week! We were instructed to do five minutes every morning and five minutes before bed at night. And while I did them all, I didn’t really do them as instructed.
I have a hard time quieting my mind during meditation. As a writer, I’m naturally inclined to use any and all quiet time to write — even if only in my head — stories, blog posts, even emails and sometimes Tweets. I try to focus on “darkness” or “the backs of my eyelids,” but the next thing I know I have “Blurred Lines” in my head and I’m swaying to it.
I also didn’t do a great job of meditating at the “correct” times. I always did my nighttime meditation right before bed — even last Thursday after going out for drinks with friends and then having a sleepover with Lucy and making her meditate with me — but my “morning” meditations has happened as late as 6:30 PM. Or just “whenever I get around to it.” I need to just set my alarm a little earlier so I don’t have to worry about making time for it.
I’m not great at “letting thoughts enter and leave my mind,” and feel more like I’m just sitting in stillness and silence for five minutes, but I think that will come with more practice. (Right?) One night I used one of Baron Baptiste’s meditation podcasts, which I liked. But usually it’s just me sitting there, fighting the urge to talk and sing.
Also, I admittedly put “Meditate” on my daily to-do list. I’m pretty sure that’s absolutely not the point of all this. I think it’s the opposite of the point of all this. Be more mindful, more intuitive, and less “checkbox-y.”
Hehe. Actually, I didn’t do terribly this week! I make my own granola bars now, because I’m a fancy chef, and I have those for breakfast every morning. Lunch is usually a toasted sprouted grain English Muffin with Tzatziki sauce and cucumbers and then a fruit or vegetable on the side (baby carrots, more cucumbers, beans, cantaloupe). Dinner and snacking are my rough spots, because I want junk and chocolate all the time. We’re supposed to get better at dismissing our cravings, so I basically have to just not have the stuff I actually want in the apartment.
The Girl Scout Cookies have been polished off, so that’s a step in the right direction. (Though is it wrong that in order to “not have them around anymore,” I ate an entire sleeve of Thin Mints in one day? How does math work?) Plus, Whole Foods just opened on the same street on which I live, which is very exciting. They have a taco bar.
At last week’s meeting we talked about not letting food “be something that happens to us.” See Exhibit A, when I was eating my mushroom tacos in front of the TV/phone/computer and didn’t even realize what I was eating. And I had cooked that meal myself! What a shame.
We have these “Excavation Questions” to answer, and I really enjoyed laying in bed last night and actually answering them in a journal rather than just typing them here on the internet. I answered some of them simply, in one or two matter-of-fact sentences, and I spent some real time on others.
One of the major questions of the week was, “What are you letting go of?” (Never end a sentence on a preposition, but fine.) Here’s what I am committed to letting go of throughout the 40 days and, hopefully, beyond:
- My fear of kicking up into handstand. Bye.
- Gossiping. Talking shit. I don’t do these things intentionally, but next thing you know me and my BFFs are droning on about some chick’s “unhealthy relationship with whatever.” Why bother?
- Negative thoughts. About myself. About my body. About my self-worth. About others.
- Complaining. It is, as Bethany says, “an epic waste of time.” Agreed. Onward.
- Toxic relationships. If you don’t lift me up, empower me, or make me feel lucky to have you in my life, I’m not at all interested. Ain’t nobody got time for you, or your blog, or your social media, or your real life. Hate reading, dear friends, is a form of a toxic relationship. Don’t let it happen to you.
- Using Crohn’s as an excuse or a crutch. So I was sick for two years. OK. I know that. You know that. My god, the universe knows that. But I’m not sick now. And I need to stop prefacing things with, “Well I was sick for two years.” Fine, I’m a bit out of running shape right now and struggle to hit what used to be my easy paces. Cool story! Instead of explaining why I’m not running fast, how about I just start running fast?
We were all given copies of Baron Baptiste’s 40 Days to Personal Revolution book, and I wish I’d done the assigned reading at the start of the week rather than at the absolute last minute. Typical procrastinator. (I hate this about myself, and I can acknowledge it but refuse to change my ways. I “work well at the last minute, under extreme stress and pressure.”)
The reading was really interesting, and right after I finished the reading I had my best meditation session of the entire week. Go figure.
I will say, though, I kind of struggled with the reading at first. I haven’t immersed myself in a real textbook situation since college. I was so distracted, couldn’t focus, and felt overwhelmed. Eventually I settled into a groove and enjoyed it, but yikes. I hated feeling so out of touch with the process of learning.
Do I feel empowered? Not yet. I felt super empowered when I first signed up, and I was really jazzed after our kickoff meeting. But then the week got busy. I had meetings and deadlines and lots of priorities, none of which included “be present.” So the weekly theme got pushed to the wayside, and that frustrated me.
But I think that’s what the first week was about. Figuring out how the 40 days fits into my lifestyle, learning to prioritize it, and powerfully moving forward.
I also should not have downloaded that 2048 game onto my phone because not only am I completely addicted, but I’m also terrible at it. So it’s equally fun and frustrating. Presence. Totally.
And now we continue to Week 2: Vitality!