Practice as of now

I had a difficult day yesterday. I had to deal with a difficult person who wanted me to work in her gallery for free for the “experience” and then I got rained on. I think this “experience” is still being digested by my brain because I woke up today exhausted and a fairly minor matter about a photograph resolution had me in tears for most of the morning. Does anyone else have these emotional hangovers?

I seem to be dealing with lots of annoying issues recently, and my yoga practice has been suffering. I drag myself to the mat and I do not want to be there. I want to be in bed. I have stiff hips, stiff shoulders and the intellectual desire to delve into my asana practice but I just don’t have the focus to stick to it. Tears spring up in lunges (while I’m in lunges, my tears don’t lunge) and I just.can’t.decide.what.pose.to.do.now. I usually end up in curled-up-in-a-ball-asana.

Today I gave up completely and did some mindfulness of breath. It was exactly what I needed. Sometimes asana isn’t the answer.

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The lure of early mornings

I used to label myself a night owl, as in I loved being awake late at night and couldn’t function in the morning. Now I wonder if maybe I just hated school and would rather be up all night online.

Nevertheless changing my sleeping habits was quite a traumatic undertaking. When I was 20 I spent a summer trying to make my bedtime reasonable and my waking up time earlier than 10am. It was hard but I succeeded. Gradually, over years, my waking up time has eroded (whilst still getting my 8 hours) further and further back until now I am getting up (on a good day) at 7am.

But I want it to be earlier! There’s something about early mornings… the peace and quiet, the promise of early productivity and later rest, the optimism that comes with wanting to do something difficult and thinking you really can succeed. I would love to get up early, do some blogging, get some drawing practice in, do a bit of cleaning. All these things I push back and back in my working day. Maybe when my schedule is busier I would have to do my yoga or my mindfulness practice early. That appeals too.

As it is for any depressed person, mornings have been the worst for me. Most mornings I would wake up with that heavy, debilitating sadness on my chest. The weight that made me realise that my day carried the promise of being 3000% harder than it should be and 6000% more terrible. I spent most days undoing the terribleness of the mornings, only to wake to another horrific morning feeling.

I’m going to take mornings back from my depression.

So this week I’m tracking how I’m spending my hours and I’m going to ease into early mornings gently. It’s something I can get excited about. And I love those things.

On Blogging every day

Just over halfway through the month of my August Blogging Challenge to post every single day. I have to say I’m enjoying it. It’s a strange feature of writing that once you start writing a lot you create ideas, not deplete them as common sense might have it. My “ideas for blog posts” notebook has got more ideas on it, not less.

I suppose now is the time to look back on my Plans for August and see how they’re coming on.

Living Expenses

Got an annoying letter from the tax office. They are not processing my tax form until I tell them how I live on such a low income. It’s not the first time I’ve got such a letter but they are equally humiliating, with the insinuations of sponging or illegal activity or laziness.

I have practically no income, I was unable to get a job after university because of my depression and I was worried (in my depressed, don’t trust anyone state) that if I asked for financial help I would be forced into a job I didn’t feel ready for. So my parents and my boyfriend have supported me and I have become a bit of a tax grey area. It worried me for years, on top of the whole trying to recover from depression thing. Just one more worry I didn’t need.

I’m self-employed now but I still make next to no money so this situation is likely to continue, with me declaring my income which would barely sustain me for a month let alone a year. Bizarrely I may be forced into marrying my boyfriend, which I’ve never wanted to do. Part of me is enjoying planning this subversive wedding and it scares me! I hate the way you have to do everything the “right” way otherwise life is made difficult or demeaning for you.

I am perfectly aware I don’t make enough money but I have people who care about me who do and who look after me. Is there anything wrong with that?

Insomnia

I got 4 hours sleep last night. I just cooked for 8 people and tomorrow I have to get up at 5:30am to get the boat to England for a day trip to Liverpool.

I am shattered.

I used to suffer from insomnia a lot. I found my old livejournal the other day where I talked about sleeping until 1 in the afternoon!

Because I’ve been living and recovering from depression I’ve made sleep the biggest priority in my life. I love sleeping and it has been the one thing that hasn’t been difficult during the depression. That and eating. I always hated how most depression symptom checklists ask about eating and sleeping habits. Mine have been fine but apparently you can cry all day and be unable to function but if you have your 3 square meals and 8 hours sleep and you’re forever only a “mild/moderate” depressive. It’s bizarre.

Lack of sleep makes me giddy and incoherent. Apologies.

Tempting fate

I’m not superstitious (anymore) but I do find it strange that the day I consider how I would cope with intensive yoga teacher training if I were to catch a cold (quite likely because it’s scheduled for January) I catch a cold. A week later I’m still not better. This is my third sleepless night so far, I was up until half 4 coughing.

I was a sickly child who caught every virus going but since arriving in depressed adulthood I have only suffered from a handful of infections. So I had the label of “person who is always sick”, then “person who is never sick”… What do I call myself now?

Week 4: Moving towards balance with Rodney Yee

So I had a big shock and a little break. Now comes the rebuilding of all my little habits and routines. It’s easier said than done, particularly when you wake up to find it’s September and raining and the misery monster has decided to camp out in your chest.

Having said all that I didn’t stop my working through the Rodney Yee course, I’m just behind writing about it. I’ve just started week 6 but still got weeks 4 and 5 to write about, so here goes.

Week 4 was twists. I quite like twists, or so i thought. Turns out I like standing twists like deep twisting lunges and revolved triangle, and lying twists are good friends to me too. Seated twists are something else entirely. I do at least one seated twist in each practice, usually ardha matsyendrasana (lord of the fishes twist) but they’ve always been a bit of a challenge for me because of my stiff ankles. I just can’t ground myself, my hip won’t let me! So I’m used to this discomfort but what I’m ashamed to say got me in this week is boredom. I found it boring to sit on my bum and twist one way and then the other, twist one way and then the other, twist one way and then the other. Legs crossed, (attempted) half lotus, lord of the fishes, marichyasana 1 and 3… too many seated twists for one practice! I had a painting behind me that I was thoroughly sick of looking at by the end. Plus the thing about twists is they actually need quite a lot of mental agility and determination. The week I was doing this I didn’t have much of either, my brain was dull and sad. I did it but I cut it short.

On the good side I found that one pose that has been the bane of my heavy-legged life is finally becoming possible. What Rodney calls reclined straight-leg twist or in sanskrit is jathara parivartanasana has been so unbelievably difficult for me. Yet it’s one of these movements that people in classes seem to have no problem with. So everyone’s calmly keeping their torsos straight and backs flat and lowering their straight legs to the left and hovering, to the centre, to the right and hovering, to the centre ad infinitum. Whereas I’m almost falling over, everything’s shaking, my shoulders want to leave the floor, I want to leave the room, I’m straining and straining and feeling incredibly weak. I’m tempted to say it’s a question of proportions (to save my ego), I have very long, heavy, meaty legs and a little tiny torso. My poor muscles have to work extra hard to swing those substantial legs around. My theory anyway. I’m working on it and it is getting easier.

So next time I’ll be writing about inversions!

Rejection and identity crisis

I’ve been thoroughly sick of my computer this past week. I’ve been avoiding it, having a break. Dealing with things.

About a month ago I applied to be an artist at a gallery. I’ve been selling paintings at this gallery and felt the time was right to be represented by them. Last week I came back from a very rainy but happy run to find that I’d been rejected. Worse than that, the email was confusing and vague, full of contradictions and fluff. So while I was selling well (and giving a fair cut to the gallery) I wasn’t ‘developed’ enough. Basically, we’ll have your paintings and your money but you’re not good enough.

I was devastated. I spent the whole day crying and for a whole day my eyes were red. It was like the depression only there was something real and hard and concrete upsetting me. I could tell myself it was just feelings but the feelings were too much. I woke up in the middle of the night and the feeling of despair was so overwhelming I couldn’t close my eyes again. So many thoughts, so many feelings were bombing around my head: If I’m not an artist what am I? What will I do? Was I stupid to believe I could actually do this? Are my paintings too scruffy? Am I not educated enough? Am I not as clever as I thought? Am I not as good as I thought? The email was so bad I was left completely stranded. The rejection sentence was so vague I had no idea why I was being rejected and no idea how I was ever going to meet with this undefined standard.

I survived though, the fallout from bad news is very rarely fatal. I went through so many emotions: shock, anger, resentment, bewilderment, despair. I felt my identity was completely shook at its core. It’s bizarre how much I believe I am not my paintings and I am not how I make money but how when I comes down to it I don’t think that at all. I over-identified with myself as the artist so when I was told I couldn’t be the artist I was an empty shell with just my emotions rattling round inside.

I healed too, after the break. I’m still dealing with it, the gallery are being asses in my opinion but I may get some ‘mentoring’ out of it. I put my pride aside and let my curiosity take over when I was offered this.

I took refuge in my yoga practice, doing Rodney Yee’s course and going to lots of classes. I could still feel good in my body I discovered, still feel good in trikonasana. I also discovered some very good advice in dealing with disappointment and rejection. I also found this quote on the latter site:

“Success is sweet: the sweeter if long delayed and attained through manifold struggles and defeats.”

–A. Branson Alcott

And I took with it all the feeling that I’m in good company: what good artist is ever accepted by the institution?

Happy things for Tuesday

 

I feel like I’ve let my happiness slide somewhat. It’s strange how you can do this so easily: put off the long meditation one more day, put off writing that email to that friend just for now, put off writing a blog post or a journal entry until tomorrow, put off the long yoga session for today because I’m tired… etc etc. Somewhere along the way these things which I know are so crucial to my happiness and to my perception that I am recovering from the depression just become ‘to-dos’ that are not done because I’m ‘too sad today’.

When did these life-affirming things become duties?!

So I have made a pledge to myself: I will do these things and more! I am sick and tired of waking up sad and dreading the day so I will help myself cope. I will go to bed earlier and I will wake up and sit mindfully and do some pranayama before breakfast. Just a few minutes mind you, food is crucial to my happiness too and cannot be put off for long. I will write about this morning routine because I so want it and putting it on here seems to make it more real.

Now for 5 things that I am grateful exist in this world:

  • Yoga (specifically asana but the whole shebang really)
No other system of movement (or anything really) has made me feel so alive and present in my body. I need it and without it I am bereft. Whenever I feel like a boost I will just look through my asana books or watch videos of people doing yoga and I imagine what they’re feeling in their bodies. Yoga excites me and it nourishes me and I hope that this continues until I die.
  • Cats
My god I love cats. Before I loved anything I loved cats. I would obsess over cats, I would collect cat books, cat toys, cat posters, anything! I learned everything there is to know about cats when I was very little… and we didn’t even have a pet cat! We got one when I was 6, strange how it felt like a lifetime back then. I’m still obsessed now, I just need to see a cat out and about and it’ll bring a stupid kiddy grin to my face. I’ll be the person you see waving at strangers cats.
  • Breakfast
I didn’t eat breakfast from the ages of 15-20. How did I survive?! I had terrible IBS and eating anything that early, especially with the stress of school would cause me terrible pain. I managed to get my symptoms under control and got to eat breakfast. And what a meal it is! I love all the classic breakfast dishes: oaty porridge, eggy bread (french toast), muesli, granola and am doing my best to collect new ones off all those healthy living blogs. It’s fantastic! I always make sure I’ve got a good breakfast planned before I go to bed so I have a reason to get out of bed when I’m feeling sad.
  • The colour blue
But not just any colour blue but that deep deep ultramarine blue. I refuse to call it Royal Blue because I’m a republican (not an American republican, an anti-monarchist) This colour has been my favourite colour since I was 5 and I wanted to rebel against PINK. It is the deepest, most exciting, most intense colour I’ve ever seen. If I could marry it I would and I’d stare into it’s blue self all day every day.
  • This Video
Just because.
This was my first happiness list and it was a challenge! Hope it gets easier.