Tuesday, 31 January 2012
I’ve decided to come up with a one-word resolution for 2012.
I’m not sure anyone has thought of it before, but maybe it’ll catch on.
My first impulses for my one word were all wrapped up in striving. I want to be a more intentional mother. I long to love my husband better. I yearn for more patience, I’d love to be more organized, I want to do more for those suffering, for injustice. I want to write better, to live better, to do better, to be better.
But I’m already really good at that. Not at being better. But at trying to be better.
I’ve done it my whole life. Part personality, part nurture (a father who also loved excellence), I’ve lived as if it were gospel: If you could just get it right, be better, do better this time, you would finally be happy. You’d look like you want to look, sound like you want to sound, be that person you want to be. You just have to try harder.
It’s the biggest lie I’ve ever believed.
Beating myself up to be better
My choice of exercise is a metaphor for my spiritual condition. When I first went to the gym several years ago, I went to all the most intense classes. I remember spinning class being one of the more torturous, pushing my legs in those tiny circles for well over an hour, turning the dial to increase the tension under my dictator-instructor’s eye, legs searing and lungs ready to burst. After each class, I felt awful. I almost threw up a couple times. But psychically, it felt good. I wanted the punishment. Maybe it was because beating myself up physically had nothing on what went on between my ears all day long.
Despite evidence to the contrary, I believed that beating myself up, in thought or in body, would finally produce the results I longed for. Simply trying wasn’t enough. I had to beat myself into submission.
The last few years have been a journey to more kindness and compassion for myself (something I used to scoff at). Now, yoga is my exercise of choice. It’s challenging, but in a different way than spinning. It pushes me and demands new things of my body, but the philosophy is one of gentleness and humility. My instructor says you show the greatest strength when you acknowledge your limitations. The most challenging pose is the one that always closes each class: savasana.
Otherwise known as corpse pose. Total relaxation. The most difficult asana of all. For me, it’s because sometimes it feels like defeat.
But that’s another lie. Rest isn’t defeat; it’s the opposite. It’s strength. It restores. It gives life. And actually, savasana is often my time to connect with Jesus. Rest often becomes a very sweet time of prayer and communion.
And though I’ve gotten “better” at it, rest still doesn’t come easy for me. Because you can’t try harder at resting, really. It’s all about letting go, giving up, surrender. You can get better at resting, but it has nothing to do with striving. It’s a lot of practice, an understanding of abundant grace and having true compassion. For yourself.
It’s my one word for 2012: Rest. I have big plans for this year. I hope I can keep coming back to this one word and believe in the good it will feed into everything else.
What’s your one word for 2012? Feel free to link your one-word resolution post in the comments!