“If you want to have something change, you have to actually do something different.”
Here’s my introduction to the 40 Days to Personal Revolution program, and here’s my Week 1 recap. Now that you’re caught up, let’s boogie right into the recap from Week 2, which was all about “Vitality.”
On paper, I totally crushed my second week in the 40 Days program.
In reality? Maybe not so much.
I basically powered through this week tackling everything as an item on my master to-do list. And that’s not at all what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re supposed to be taking this program on mindfully and letting it work itself into all facets of our daily lives. Simple translation: “You’re doing it wrong, Feller.”
Also, the theme for the week was Vitality, and fun fact about that is I don’t really know what Vitality means, and I was too embarrassed to raise my hand and ask for a textbook definition during our group meeting last week.
So every time Bethany would talk about vitality during class or in her emails, I would smile really big or imagine gold shimmering jazz hands or a rising sun, because that’s how I picture vitality. But I didn’t know how to truly live with or how to embody vitality.
Please don’t think I’m stupid for not really knowing what the word means. I know the definitions and proper usages of lots of other words. Also, now that I know what it means, I think I am someone who actually naturally lives with a lot of vitality! So maybe I was being vitality-ish without even knowing it!
Which, right, again…that’s not the point. Oh yoga.
There are 47 of us enrolled in the 40 Days program, which is pretty incredible for a studio that’s one year old. Bethany sent us all this message after last week’s meeting, and it really resonated with me:
“My goal is to graduate ALL 47 of you. In order for this to happen, you have to be up to something bigger than yourself. You have to hold each other accountable. You have to show up. You have to do the work. You have to take accountability and recommit when things don’t go as planned. And let’s have a really FUN time doing all of it!”
With that, here’s how the week broke down, commitment by commitment…
Daily Yoga Practice
Crushed it. Really. Last week I said I was going to “take fewer Bethany classes and branch out more,” but I ended up doing more of Bethany’s classes than I had during Week 1. Go figure. I successfully completed six yoga classes last week, with Thursday as my day off. I took four 60-minute classes, one 75-minute class, and a rather grueling but playful 90-minute class on Sunday. I’m getting closer and closer to finding my sweet spot in handstand, and am working on getting over my fear of kicking up too hard, flipping over and snapping my neck on the way down.
We worked on Side Crow this week, which was a pretty epic fail for me because I learned the “right” way to do it, which is apparently not balancing my legs on one arm and plopping my butt down on the other. You’re only supposed to be balancing on one arm. Good to know. Good to know that I can’t, actually, do Side Crow. Like at all. But I continue to be amazing at Savasana and my high-plank/low-plank/repeat 12x (psh, yoga push-ups) is getting better, so snaps for Ali!
I also felt way less tired during my classes this week, probably in large part because I didn’t run very much. I let my focus be on my yoga practice instead of running a bunch of junk miles. (Brooklyn Half Marathon training starts next week, yay! I’ll be writing about my training for SHAPE, which is exciting!) The first week wore me down a bit, but this week I generally felt stronger. Yay!
Oh, and I’ve felt that a lot of what we do in the yoga studio very nicely translates to life beyond the mat. Like ujjayi breathing, for example (in through the nose, out through the nose, “like you’re fogging a mirror,” Bethany says, but with your nose, not your mouth). I was laying in bed the other night and Brian was like, “Why are you doing that?!” And I was like, “Doing what?” And he shouted, “You’re breathing SO loud!” I didn’t even realize I was doing it, so I explained that I was using “ujjayi breath…it’s what we do in yoga.” To which he exasperatedly responded, “What the f— is vaginey breath?!”
During Week 1, we were instructed to meditate for five minutes in the morning and five minutes before bedtime. That was totally doable and also kind of pleasant. But in Week 2, the time increased to 10-minute meditations twice a day.
Less doable. Less fun. Less pleasant.
To be completely transparent here, now that the meditations are longer — and they continue to increase throughout the program — I just don’t want to do them. They seem like annoying things to check off my list. I don’t get around to my “morning” meditations until later in the day usually, when I can “make time” for them, and even then I’m distracted and thinking about other things I “should” be doing during that time. Then, I’m so exhausted by the end of the day that I’ve been doing my nightly meditations in bed. Which I specifically asked Bethany about, and she specifically said is not what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re supposed to be in a seated, upright position, where we’re alert and awake and not just chilling out until we fall asleep.
Plus, 10 minutes feels like a long time. It went by reasonably quickly when I used Baron Baptiste’s meditation podcast (or YouTube video, I forget), and sometimes I’ll try to get to the yoga studio early to meditate before class while listening to nice music. But beyond that, this is the area where I’m seriously lacking and where I feel I’m struggling the most.
There are people in the program who are doing so great with the meditations and who seem to really enjoy them and benefit from them. I envy those people. That’s where I feel I’m at with the physical yoga practice, but my mental game is lagging behind.
In Week 3, our meditations increase to 15 minute sessions, so I need to just set my alarm 15 minutes earlier in the morning and say “this is my time to meditate,” instead of “this is my time to play 2048 while lingering in my pajamas.”
I’m shockingly really enjoying this part of the program! I thought this is where I would struggle the most, because on any given day my diet is 80% chocolate, 20% pasta.
But I’m being so much more mindful of what I eat, how much I eat, and the quality of the foods I’m choosing both when I’m dining out and when I’m grocery shopping. I’m still so so so far from eating a perfectly balanced and “clean” (blech) diet, but that’s not really the goal here. The goal is to merely be more mindful of our dietary choices, and I’m making really conscious efforts to follow through there.
After Sunday’s class, Brian and I had planned to do a little cake tasting, and I made a joke to Bethany about whether the cake samples were “40 Days approved.” And she actually said yes, they were! Because it was something we planned for and were doing consciously, and it was something that was making me happy and excited and, heyooooo, was bringing vitality to my life!
I could still stand to ease up on my portions and to maybe not “accidentally” drop extra chocolate chips into my oatmeal and homemade granola bars, but let’s take this one day at a time.
I love the journaling, but that’s no surprise because I’m a writer and all I want to do all the time is have my thoughts somewhere permanent and well documented. (The internet is sticking around for a while, right? We don’t think this is a fad?)
This week, we did some journaling during the meeting, and were instructed to answer the excavation questions from our handbook as well. Here are some of the prompts we were given and asked to explore:
- I commit to having a breakthrough in…
- What does it look like when you’re in your comfort zone?
- What are the forces in my life that drain my energy?
- Whom do I resent, and how is that resentment affecting me?
(That last one’s fun, huh?!)
Last week I waited until the very last minute to all the reading, and I regretted it. This time around, I did the reading right away. Now I kind of forget what I read, but I was glad I dove right in. Not much else to report here. Sorry.
I feel more empowered this week for sure. Even though I was going through the motions in many ways, I am glad to have recognized that pattern and where my downfalls are, and I’m hoping to make further improvements in Week 3 and beyond.
This is cheesy I’m sure, but I feel like I’m in much better control of my life already thanks to this program. Since it incorporates so many moving parts, and you’re taking on so many different challenges at once, it really forces you and encourages you to take a look at how you’re filling each day and what you’re letting take up space in your brain. Chew on that.
The most tangible change I noticed this week came at Bethany’s suggestion to start replacing the word “but” with the word “and.” Try it on. See what happens. It has already made a world of positive difference for me in how I speak to people and in the tone of my emails.
Week 3 is about Equanimity.
Don’t worry. I totally know what it means.