Pushing Through the Tough Moments

So, I’m taking up yoga now.  For years, I imagined myself being one of those people who are always in zen-mode.  You know them – maybe you’re one of them – those who don’t let things bother them and who seem so calm in front of me.  I usually look at them with a crooked eye because I’m wondering why they are not stressed about their world as I am in that moment.  I’m also secretly, jealously staring at their flat stomach and toned arms.

I started doing yoga a few months ago, but after months of a yoga hiatus, I returned feeling as if I am starting over from the beginning – just learning to stretch and focus. Needless to say, I’m waking up this morning to a sore everything.

During our yoga class last night, the teacher said something that made my eyebrows wrinkle as I pretended I wasn’t in pain from the position she told us to get into. It was one of those moments when you’re looking around to see if anyone is looking at you struggle.(Picture a newborn Bambi trying to lift her wobbly legs.)  In her calming voice, she said,

“You will feel the stretch in the back of your leg, and it may be uncomfortable, but press through it.  Focus on your breathing and press through.”

I would love to tell you right now that I did in fact press through, but I can’t.  And I couldn’t last night.  I stopped, put my knees on the mat, and took a mini break while everyone else kept going.

At the end of class, I left saying to myself, Gosh, this stuff is hard.  I can’t wait ’til I am able to be much more flexible than I am now.  I hope I get there soon.

That’s when my awakening hit me like a tidal wave.  I started to think back to all the times I said those words before: This is hard. I can’t wait ’til (insert goal here).  I hope (insert EVERY struggle I’ve ever had here) is over soon.  

Here’s my admission: I. Don’t. Like. Struggle. I don’t even like the idea of struggle.  I avoid it like the plague, and in my life, I can pinpoint over and over again the times where I quit or gave up rather than pressed through the struggle to get to the other side.  Shoot, that’s why I quit yoga a few months ago!

You all, if we’re going to be transformers of our life, we have to be willing to press through the tough times, no matter how long it takes to make it to the other side.  That’s been my problem: I want to get to the easy part – the prouder moments and the success stories – but I don’t want to do the work.  So, not only am I not proud, I’m also unaccomplished.

This yoga experience has taught me a couple of things that I certainly didn’t expect. First off, we must approach every difficult task with the mindset that we WILL get through it.  It’s mind over matter.  We may not be able to see the end goal date, and we may even fall on our knees because the pain is so intense, but we WILL get through it. It WILL get easier.  It WILL.

I also realized that developing the discipline of pressing through turns into the character traits of grit and perseverance. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be known for those?  I don’t know about you, but I hope to get to a place where I can say, If I can get through this, I can get through anything in life.  The key is to focus on the breathing, not the struggle.

So, yes, stretching is hard. Yoga is hard. Life is harder.  I’m thankful, though, for the positive self-talk that I’m learning along the way.  This (this life and this yoga class) is a day-by-day, breath-by-breath thing, and it’s not for the weak-willed. Today, I will try those same positions again, but this time with a different attitude.  And tomorrow, I will approach this same life with a different attitude.

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Elana Cole is a writer, educator, and professional coach who is passionate about helping others in their personal journeys towards a more beautiful life. She is the author of "The Midnight Experience" and creator of Empowered Narrative, a blog about transforming the way you live and love.

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