Are you aware of all the times in your day you talk yourself out of doing something because you’re afraid you can’t? Or maybe you just know it’ll be sloppy and you want to wait until you’ve got it all perfect. Or maybe you’re afraid that the risk will hurt and it’s just much more comfortable to stay where you are.
When we practice yoga and develop a habit of watching our thoughts, it become easier to see how much our brain thinks limitations and judgements on to us. And when we start to question our thoughts we begin to see that maybe our brain has NO IDEA what it’s talking about.
Look around you. What do you see? I’m in my room and I see pictures on the wall and books on the shelf. The pictures are of trips I took and things I experienced. Many of the books I’ve read before. So, they’re familiar. I look at them and think I know them. My brain files them away under the Remember-that-time… category. We do the same things with the people we encounter through our days. They remind us of someone we know, or they’re people we think we know well and we stop looking. Studies have shown that when people read, they really only take in the first letter and the last few and the brain assumes the rest of the word. Our brains take what we already know and use that knowledge to categorize any new information we have coming to us. And of course they do that – it’s not their fault. The brain in it’s knowing/understanding state is not where faith or the unknown can reside. It’s job is to know. So it tries to make the unknown known.
But is there any room then for surprises? For growth? For change? Not in our brains!
Maybe it lies in our hearts, or maybe in our hands. Or maybe it lies in the silence that comes when we get quiet and still and listen to all that cannot be said.
Even though being mostly self-employed (or a contractor) has brought up lots of my strengths and weaknesses for me to look at; and even though in my yoga practice I recently discovered a whole new way to engage my core which aligns my whole body differently and strengthens my weaknesses, for some reason it is starting a very small garden in my backyard that has my stomach clenching in fear and all my self-doubts bubbling to the surface. Not sure why…
But on a gut level – in my heart, my hands, and in the quiet – I know I need to have a garden. I need my hands in the dirt. I want food to eat. And I need a hobby to keep my brain occupied and limit how much time it spends drifting around and obsessing. So I question the thoughts, let go of some of the heavy meaning I’ve attached to the idea of having a garden and I go out, step-by-step, face the fear and prove it wrong.
First, get some beds together. Or pots. Then go get some soil. If you buy too little, you can always go back and buy more. Then get some plants and stick them in the dirt. When you end up with cucumber plants you weren’t expecting and an extra pallet lying around the backyard, go get yourself a circular saw and a hammer and some nails and make yourself some tiered pots. And when the angles are funny and you can’t quite get the nail in, or you accidentally hit your finger and you’re picturing all the neighbors watching you and judging your lack of expertise, just laugh – because everyone had to start somewhere and expertise is just the combination of experience and practice. Standing out in the backyard, covered in sawdust and with a new blood blister on my finger, I thought of Ms. Frizzle and what she always told the kids on the Magic Schoolbus: “Take chances. Makes mistakes. Get messy.” When you challenge yourself to do that things you didn’t think you could do, you’re working mental and physical muscles that will make you stronger, more confident, and more creative.
Know there’s always a possibility that you can behind the thought that you can’t.