Once upon a time, I smoked cigarettes. I know—gross, gross, gross. I smoked for many years, starting by sneaking my Mom’s True Blue 100s when I was 15. I didn’t fully quit until I met my future husband who is an adamant non-smoker. Life on the cigarette wagon went great for the first several months. Then I took a road trip—riding in the car had always been one of the places I really loved having a cigarette—and all those cravings came rushing back. Situational memory, I reckon.
I recently had another attack of situational memory. This time, it was at the gym. And I wasn’t craving a cigarette. I was experiencing a severe attack of glute envy.
Before a couple of weeks ago, I had not been to a gym since 1998. In the 13 years since then, I have patronized yoga studios or practiced yoga at home. My non-gym life was really working for me (and my waistline) until I went and had two babies in a little over two years, and developed quite a potbelly in the process. Practicing yoga in my living room has done a lot to save my sanity, but the belly remains. And I want my clothes to fit. Hence, the gym.
While I’ve loved working up a bonafide sweat and feeling that twinge of soreness the next day that indicates that I really did move out of my comfort zone, I have been surprised by the old, pre-yoga thought patterns that have come rushing back. My inner commentary has been so unloving. I’ve caught myself getting horrified by glimpses of my belly bouncing around during Bhangra class. I’ve heard myself thinking “everyone else is in better shape than me, so why even bother?” Ew.
Hearing and acknowledging those thoughts has not been easy or fun. But I’m going to keep going. Maybe the gym didn’t trigger these thoughts, after all. Perhaps they’ve been floating under the radar all the time and the gym just brought them to the surface. Which is a blessing of sorts, because you can’t change a habit you don’t realize you have. Continuing to go to the gym will give me lots of opportunities to acknowledge those thoughts and then choose to focus on something else (such as a tricky Bhangra move) so that they can pass without my accepting them as truth. My hope is that by continuing to put myself in the situation, I can use the tools I’ve learned through years of yoga and meditation to get to the point where I forgive myself for having those thoughts in the first place. Then I’ll have truly re-written that situational memory.
Speaking of, I’ve got to get my stuff together and head out. There’s a cardio and conditioning class in 45 minutes!
What triggers your monkey mind?
Are there places or situations where you notice your inner critic really going to town? How do you cope with those thoughts? What practices help you get through those times when your thoughts are ganging up on you? Leave a comment and if I publish it in the next Vegimental, I’ll send you some lovely new products from Rescue Remedy.
Take care and keep breathing,