Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Body Can't

Monday's yoga class had me doing something that I had never done before: headstand, the King of poses. It was assisted, using a stool-like device that prevents you from actually standing on your head while still getting a proper inversion.

When Michael told us that we were going to practice headstand, I was terrified. Noticing my discomfort, he asked me why I was scared. I couldn't say at the time, I was so desperately trying to find a way to flee the room. He assumed that it was because I was fearful of being upside down, and provided me with the physical and emotional support that I needed to give it a go. I completed the inversion with only a little help, and felt fantastic the next day because of it.

It took quite a lot of reflection to identify the reason behind the fear--more like panic--that I experienced when Michael pulled out the stool. It wasn't that I was afraid to be upside down; I actually enjoy it. It was that I was afraid that I couldn't do it. That my 100lb overweight mess of a body simply couldn't get into that position. And, worse, that I would totally humiliate myself trying, not only feeling embarrassed to the point of tears, but making everyone else in the room feel uncomfortable at the same time.

Holding this feeling, I realize how little faith I have in my body. I'm sitting here shuddering, thinking about all of the times I have felt both disappointed and embarrassed by my physical shortcomings: mortifying my father by coming in last during a family fun run when I was a kid; succumbing to exhaustion and collapsing during a trek in Dogon Country, Mali when I was in college; tripping over a twig in the road on a family walk, falling flat on my face, and flipping Ally upside down in her stroller when she was 2. The list is endless.

I think over time, I have just lost all faith in my physical being. Losing weight is no different. I want to so badly, but I've been trying to get my weight under control for the better part of the last 10 years, and have done nothing but fail. It feels hopeless, and so sad, and so frustrating. I just keep thinking about how unpleasant it must be for Peter to be stuck with this body for the rest of his life, how awful it is for my kids to grow up with this role model for healthy.

It's hard not to get swallowed by despair. But what do I have to do but keep going on? That's the trouble with Karma. If you don't get it right the first time, you have to do it again until you do get it right. So better make it right now so that you don't have to do it again later. Or at least that's how I see it. I keep musing this idea that I've heard many times: that the body is simply frozen mind. Well, I sure have a lot of mind frozen. I wonder what's buried in there.

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