Have you ever stepped to the top of your yoga mat at the start of class and wondered how you would ever make it through practice? Did you ever contemplate leaving during the first few poses because you felt tired or just not up for it? Many of us feel this way most of the time.
I have discovered that if we stay with whatever it is we are trying to get ourselves to do for just eight minutes, we will be golden.
It often takes at least eight minutes to physically relax, breathe deeply, and begin the process of settling the mind. During those first few minutes of practice, you may feel like a jumble of undisciplined thought and emotion. In my experience, if you can stay with a task for about eight minutes, you will begin to rise above the doubt that may be crippling you from becoming more consistent and committed to anything that you aspire to do in life, from the smallest to biggest challenges.
Allow me to illustrate what I mean with an example from my own life.
My neighborhood sits on the edge of Valley Forge Park, so running from my home is not just a treat but a divine gift. I am blessed to have 3,000 acres of rolling hills, off-road paths, and spectacular views at my doorstep. How could I ever find a reason not to take advantage of this beauty? Believe me, sometimes I manage to find every reason in the book to avoid what I often call “my dreaded run.”
One morning, as I prepared to go out on a bright and cheerful morning for a run, I stepped into my habitual pattern of whining and complaining. The abbreviated version of this particular episode went something like this: It’s cold out. I am not feeling great. I am tired. I don’t feel like it.
Maybe I will just go around the block… yada, yada, yada.
As I started up my block, the complaining continued. I am really winded. I can’t breathe. Maybe I am getting a cold? I am going to just get the dog and take a walk.
A few minutes into my run I turned around and headed back to my house. Part of me couldn’t believe that I was actually quitting, but my legs kept leading me back to the warmth of my home and a yummy cup of coffee.
Snap! Something hit me in the head. I’m still not sure if it was real or imagined. In an instant I woke up to my ridiculous whining. “Are you kidding me?” my former competitive athletic self asked.
“You are NOT going inside!” she insisted.
The Cara-Athlete Self took over and forced my body to run past my house, up the road, and into the park. In about eight minutes I was on the path and in the woods. The beauty of the landscape and the cold air in my lungs got me out of my whiny small self and settled me down. The drone of that annoying, slothful voice in my head was thankfully silenced. The beat of the music from my ear buds kept my legs moving at a respectable clip. The sweat began to flow.
“Okay,” my whole self finally proclaimed. “I am in all in!”