Catching up? Here’s my intro to the 40 Days to Personal Revolution program, followed by recaps of Week 1 (where we focused on presence), and Week 2 (which was all about vitality). Now we’re up to Week 3: Equanimity!
I had my alarm set for 5:00 this morning so I could be up and running and making moves to kick off a very busy day.
So imagine my surprise when I very groggily opened my eyes and saw a crack of sunlight creeping in from behind the window shade.
At 7:58 AM.
That pretty much sums up how I’m feeling at the conclusion of Week 3 of the 40 Days to Personal Revolution challenge. I am exhausted!
And I know I know I know, we’re all tired all the time. But I’m really not! I usually power through my days feeling good and energized and well rested. I get myself to sleep at a reasonable hour so I’m ready to rock slightly before the sun.
Not today though. Not for the past few days, actually.
All this yoga is taking a bit of a toll, so I’m trying to back off in other areas (running, mainly) to allow for the maximum yogic benefits to come into play. It’s interesting how my body is used to running 5–6 days a week during training times, but doing that much yoga is totally different. I’m enjoying all that the challenge has to offer, and found Week 3 to be particularly crucial for me and what I’m hoping to get out of this program.
Turns out, equanimity — once a completely foreign word in my vocabulary — speaks directly to me. Everything we addressed this week was like “BOOM, Feller, pay attention” and “HEY, Ali, are you aware that this is exactly what you need to be hearing right now?”
And with that introduction, here’s how Week 3 shook out for me…
Daily Yoga Practice
So much yoga. I’ve done more yoga in these past three weeks than ever before. I mean, obviously. I took Wednesday off in favor of attending a very messy and slushy November Project workout (it was the NYC tribe’s first birthday, awwww! couldn’t miss that!), and the rest of the week included five 60-minute classes and one 90-minute class.
Bethany was away this week, so I only got to take one class with her. Probably a good thing for me. As I’ve mentioned, her classes are notoriously awesomely tough and challenging and you just cannot hide. It’s not like, “Oh OK I’m a little sluggish today, so I’ll just close my eyes here in my sad little Chair Pose and pretend Bethany can’t see me.” She can see you. She always sees you. Open your eyes.
The classes I took were all great, and they were less aggressive than Bethany’s classes (phew). By Sunday’s 90-minute class, I was struggling just to stand up straight. Seriously. And of course I was so dramatic about it. At one point, we were in Chair Pose, and were told to lift our arms higher or closer to our ears or something. I could not lift my arms. I just couldn’t do it. Get me to Savasana!
Last night, I unrolled my yoga mat at home to try to work on my handstand and a few arm balances. I nailed the “Running Man” pose (I call it Flying Feller) on Thurday, and last night — after months of not even trying because of laziness — I decided to see how I felt going for tripod headstand. And I popped right up into it! It felt great.
It’s great seeing these little breakthroughs along the way, and I maintain my stance on the physical practice being my favorite part of this challenge. I never thought I’d do so much yoga, and here I am, practically Gandhi.
I’ll get a day off tomorrow. Yay yay! Want to come over and watch “Parenthood” Season 3 with me on Netflix?
Last week I was all, “10 minutes is a long time to sit still and meditate!” Uh…in Week 3 we were to do 15-minute meditation sessions at wakeup and bedtime, and in Week 4 we’re up to 20-minute sessions. By Week 6, I’ll be attempting to meditate for two 30-minute sessions a day.
On paper, I only “missed” two of my meditations this week. One on Saturday night, because I had been out for my friend Lauren’s birthday and not only was I super tired, but I also think I ate something my body hated, because I was having some of the most intense stomach pains ever. Non-Crohn’s related. Just a very unhappy stomach. So I skipped the meditation in favor of dying and whining dramatically.
The other missed meditation was Sunday morning. I just didn’t do it. I don’t even have an excuse. Oh, I kind of do: It was Daylight Saving Time, so we missed an hour, and my meditation existed within that particular hour. I woke up late, then had to hustle to get downtown to class. My bad.
The meditation in general continues to be my greatest struggle and my biggest downfall. Do I have the time? Yes. And if not, I can make the time. We all can, really. I could set my alarm slightly earlier and go to bed just a bit later. Or I could ease up on that nightly “Parenthood” rerun obsession I’m engrossed in right now. I could make the time. I just don’t want to. I hate saying that, but it seems to be the truth.
I haven’t prioritized the meditation aspect at all, and even when I have “meditated,” I’m kind of half-assing it. It’s the only thing in my life which I’m willing to not do full-out. For shame, Feller!
I do my nightly meditations in bed, which Bethany specifically said was not meditating, but rather “going to bed.” And during my morning meditations — which I sometimes don’t get to until 6 PM — I’m thinking about other things I should be doing during that precious time.
I miss the five-minute meditations, because I really did enjoy them. Now I’m just so concerned about “my time.”
My favorite thing about the diet component of this program is that it’s not a strict do-or-don’t-do eating plan. It’s “eat well to feel great, and eat mindfully.” Those are my words. I am quoting myself.
I like this because there’s no guilt involved. Nothing you eat is “off-limits” or labeled a “bad” food. Last week, I went to a dinner party with a group of friends, and I made my very famous peanut butter fudge for everyone. Naturally I snacked on it, and kept some leftovers for myself.
I could have beaten myself up for eating a recipe that calls for an entire box of sugar and two sticks of butter (#cleaneats #paleo #soblessed), but instead I made sure that when I ate it, I was doing so mindfully. I was taking the time to really taste the food and appreciate and enjoy it.
I love food.
This is the first week I really spent some time journaling. Turns out, everyone is happier if I put my thoughts into journaling instead of screaming them at innocent Brian! Last night, I felt the onset of a little meltdown coming my way. Instead of letting all mayhem break loose as soon as Brian walked in the door, I grabbed my Moleskin and a few Le Pens, and retreated to the bedroom for some quality private writing time. And then I fell asleep. I mean, I meditated.
Here were a few of my favorite questions and topics to address this week:
- In what areas of my life can I have less reaction and more divine interpretation? For instance, in my relationships, when things get stressful at work, when I’m stuck in traffic, when I make a mistake, and so on.
- How can I enhance the quality of my life through a shift in my attitude? How would situations feel different if I practiced non-reactivity, rather than launching into an automatic response?
- What can I do in those moments of reactivity to respond better?
- If you shifted your vision on something right now, what would it look like, and then what would become possible?
Equanimity is all about “meeting life where life meets you.” Focusing more on how you react to things, and doing so consciously, instead of — like it asks above — launching into an automatic response.
I’ve spent a good part of the past two years learning to let go of things I can’t control, and equanimity comes into major play here. OK, so the checkout line at Whole Foods (yay!) is taking forever. Can I do anything about it? No. So instead of rolling my eyes at the people who aren’t paying attention to the screen directing them to the next available register, I quietly listen to music and play 2048 on my phone until it’s my turn. And then I smile and tell people to “have a nice day,” because it helps. (Or it drives them batshit insane. Either way, I feel better.)
We also spent some time during Week 3 talking about how to “shift your vision” and look at life a little differently. The whole “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” thing. It really makes a tremendous impact in my everyday life. It makes me far more compassionate and understanding.
Finally, we talked about “dropping what you know.” Like for me, I always think I’m right and I’m kind of an asshole about it. Ask Brian. (No, don’t. Leave me alone.) I’m trying to let go of the need to be right all the time, which is hard because I am right all the time. (See how this pattern goes? Yikes.) I need to be OK with saying, “I don’t know” more often. I do well with that in a professional setting, but in my personal realm? Nope.
I did it! And I learned what equanimity means!
I feel great for continuing to spend a lot of time on my yoga mat, and I’m thrilled to see actual physical progress in some of my poses! I just need to direct more of that energy toward the meditations.
Oh, and this newfound adoration for yoga? It has me pretty seriously researching attending a Level I training program. So…there’s that.
I really appreciated this blog series. Thanks for sharing with us! I am going to try some of these techniques in my everyday life as well.
I really am guilty of being too consumed with everything that I can’t concentrate on one thing, right now, the dishwasher/washing machine/dryer/tv/computer/music are all going and I barely made it through your entry. Not to mention my Mr. 7 is in bed.
You are looking amazing by the way!
I’m so amazed and inspired by the amount of yoga you’re doing and how great it’s making you feel! yay! I got back on the mat last week and love how grounding it is. I can only really do it at home (my 2 1/2 year old prevents committing to classes and I take my free time to run without my bob stroller), but thank you- yoga is awesome. Note to the whole foods salad bar – I try that once in awhile too, and it always fails me- esp romaine… nuts too, lately. Can’t wait to make the fudge- so east coast 🙂
Do you ever struggle with having time for this program? I feel like running, making good food takes time in my life (positive time used, not a bad thing) – I am so inspired by this but its seems busy, if that makes sense. And yeah, what about this fudge?! Top secret recipe or will you post for us?!!
Totally. It’s definitely time consuming, mostly with the actual yoga practice (and commuting to GET to the yoga studio, which is about 45+ minutes each way, door to door). Now that the meditations are getting longer, that is additional scheduling to take into consideration. To accommodate, I’ve spent less time running, and have stuck to really simple, easy to prepare foods.
Oh and the fudge! It’s so supremely unhealthy and delicious — I’ll post the recipe the next time I make it!
hi there! I also sometimes struggle with what meditation is “supposed” to be like, and understanding the point of it all. I listened to a great podcast last night by a fabulous woman named Tara Brach, and it was an awesome introduction to meditation. You can find the podcast here, under February 11 (“Part 1: Basic Elements of Meditation Practice”). She also does good guided meditations and talks about mindfulness stuff. She’s not too ‘holier-than-thou’ or preachy, which I really appreciate. http://www.tarabrach.com/audioarchives2015.html
Awesome!! Thank you for sharing!
Meditation doesn’t have to be so rigid as sitting down and doing nothing. Perhaps try a walking meditation through Central Park?
I love that idea! I feel like I’d be so distracted people watching though.
I also tried using the self-timer for yoga poses and failed miserably. Now I just video myself getting into the pose and screen shot the best moment of the pose 🙂
Suggestion: What if you just told yourself you had to meditate for 5 mins and then if you went longer, great. If not, no biggie, you still meditated. I found that you have to build up to sitting for longer periods of time and a week is just not long enough for some people. Good luck!
I like that! Thanks! Right now I just set the timer on my phone for however long, and I feel like I’m just waiting and waiting for it to go off. I also think I would benefit more from five GREAT minutes of meditating rather than 20 completely restless minutes. (Right?)
Gandhi, not Ghandi. Had to point that out – he’s an important world leader who deserves to have his name spelled right.
Sounds like you’re enjoying the 40 days, good luck with the rest of it!
My mistake — thanks for catching! Fixed!
Glad this is going so well! But perhaps most importantly, what is this magical peanut butter fudge?! And where is the recipe?!
Congrats on the tripod headstand! I just worked my way into crow and it was magical (all three seconds I could do it haha). I really look forward to your Challenge posts because they help me feel more grounded and inspire me to meditate and practice yoga more. Keep up the good work, I’m rooting for you in New Orleans 🙂