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Instant Healing

In this culture of instant gratification, constant online communication and an alarmingly shrinking attention span (now apparently less than a goldfish! What? Squirrel!), it should come as no surprise that people want instant healing too.

But it should also come as no surprise that healing from anything—whether physical, spiritual, emotional or psychological—is pretty much never instantaneous (unless we are talking about hand-of-Jesus-miracles, but that's a whole separate conversation).

A lot of my approach to therapeutic yoga is based on the inspirational and deeply researched work of Bo Forbes , a yoga therapist and clinical psychologist based in Boston. As I was re-reading her book again this week, I was struck by what she says about the myth of instant healing:

“The mind, or ego, wants instant and measurable results. It likes to tackle the hardest things or the highest level first. However, the rest of us, especially the nervous system, isn’t able to assimilate instant transformation. Most of the time, true change can’t happen all at once.”

I see this in my yoga classes all the time. I give options for poses, and nearly everyone takes the more advanced option (even when they really shouldn’t). If you’ve just started practicing yoga, you really should stay away from the more advanced option in pretty much any pose (said with much love). But our ego says otherwise, right? Beginner students sometimes want me to teach them poses that I am still working on myself. They haven’t built the foundation.

So many people don’t want to do the work. They just want to arrive.

But here’s the thing—and any athlete will tell you this—the real change isn’t in the arrival. The arrival, the finish line, is the reward. The real work happens behind the scenes, day in, day out, early mornings, boring drills, repetitive exercises. Work, rest, eat, breathe. The real change, the transformation in whatever form you are seeking it, is in the commitment. It is in the incremental adjustments, the slow building of that foundation.

One of my yoga mentors often says, “You have to meet the body where it is.” And this applies far beyond the yoga mat. Instead of always wishing you were somewhere else, something else, someone else, meet yourself where you are, acknowledge your current state without judgment (ah, there’s the rub!) and work with yourself from there. Slowly. Steadily. With commitment to change.

Look at it like this: say you are at a "B" state with your health and you want to be in an "A" state. But instead of working slowly and incrementally, you force your body to go right into what you think is "A" performance. And by forcing, you set yourself back to a "C" state, suddenly wishing you were in a "B" state. See how that goes? Try to rush forward and you will just go backward. (I speak from years of crashing and burning. Trust me.)

But how long will it take to see results? That’s what everyone wants to know. How long do I have to do this slow breathing thing? How long do I need to practice yoga? How long do I need to eat healthy? When will I be fixed?

Do the work. As much as I advocate dreaming big, that doesn't mean you can race ahead blindly and skip the hard stuff. Reaching for your goals is the hard stuff. Change is uncomfortable. If it's not, you're not reaching far enough.

Thankfully, I'm pretty good at being uncomfortable.

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