By Peg Ryan
Mile High Pilates and Yoga
Custer, SD – In a culture that celebrates excess it can be difficult to find that balance between overdoing and knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves with others. We see people around us who seem to always be accomplishing something. This can cause us to feel inadequate. It’s tempting to focus on all the things we think we should be doing rather than seeing all the things we actually are doing. All of us have different abilities, but we each have our own unique gifts.
A dear friend of mine recently lamented that she was unable to make it to the top of a mountain she was hiking. This woman has accomplished a multitude of hiking feats throughout a still very active life. Among these achievements she has successfully summited all 48 of the 4,000 foot peaks in the White Mountain National Forest not once, but twice! This might not sound like much to those who have hiked the Colorado 14’ers or even higher peaks around the world, but that’s not the point. The point is, this woman set her sights on a goal, achieved that goal and then helped her friends to do the same. This same woman has finished many ultramarathons including numerous 50K, 50 mile and even 100-mile foot races. All of these efforts will always be there as part of her history. No one can ever take them away regardless of how her physical capacity changes with age. She does not have to prove anything to anyone (herself included!) because she’s already been there and done that.
Years ago when I was running ultramarathons I once ran a 50K race in which I was the only woman in my age group. It turned out that, in fact, no woman in my age group had ever completed that particular race. So my finishing time was actually a “record” for women in my age group. That was the final year for that particular race. The course was changed the following year. So the Race Director joked that my “record” would always stand. There would be no chance for anyone to break it. What a hoot! I still chuckle when I think of that. My time in that race would never qualify me for the Olympics but so what? It was enough to be a record and it will always be mine.
We live in a hyper-competitive society. Everyone wants to be a winner. “Don’t rest on your laurels”, we are told. It’s true that striving to be your best you can be a noble effort. But sometimes we get caught up in the striving and ignore what we have already accomplished and what we can still do. Just like everything else in the world our “best” is always changing. By being present in the moment we can acknowledge what is working for us now. What we did in the past will always be there. Nothing in the past can ever change. None of us knows what is going to happen tomorrow. All we can know is what is true right now. And our “best” today is the best there is. No need for more. It is enough.
No matter what used to be or might still be to come, there are so many things we are all capable of right now in this moment. Among the things I love most about yoga and Pilates is that they are endlessly adaptable to one’s capacity in any given moment. Some days we feel good, other days we might feel tired or stressed. Perhaps we might be suffering from some excess of previous days or recovering from illness or injury. Then there are times when we might be feeling strong and suddenly find ourselves completely stymied by some seemingly minor obstacle. This can be especially frustrating. The cloud of self-doubt begins to loom overhead and we might be tempted to succumb to the fog. No matter what we are presented with on any given day, though, we can still bring ourselves to our practice and allow whatever happens to be as it is. Don’t give up the practice just because you think you should somehow be doing more. As I have frequently said throughout this blog, showing up is half the battle. If you come to your practice, regardless of what condition you are in physically or mentally, you have already succeeded. Drop the word “should” from your vocabulary and substitute “I am complete and I am here now”. Let that be your mantra.
There is a place of balance between the need to overachieve or live up to some invented ideal and the acceptance of where you are at today. Wherever that is, it is the right place. Tomorrow will be different. But you can deal with that when you get there. For today you are enough just as you are and whatever you do is just enough.