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My 30 Day Challenge Begins!

June 11, 2013

My 30 Day Challenge Begins! What is Bravery?

Well, sports fans, yesterday I began my personal “30 hot classes in 30 days”  challenge with a rollicking double header – 2 hot classes in one day.  (I received really good advice from a friend who said, “Knock out some doubles early on in case you need to miss a day”.)  It was the first time I have done a double (which I have learned is different from a “back to back”, one class immediately following the other) and I admit today I am feeling it!  In between rounds I ate and took a three hour nap.

In the first class, we were two breaths into the opening pranayama breathing when I had this feeling of panic:  I looked in the mirror and thought, “OMG, am I really doing this? Am I really going to be on the second breath of the first set of pranayama breathing 30 times this month?! There is NO WAY …”

I am not an athletic type so I have been doing a lot of thinking about how to best support myself in this challenge with no external motivation or group prompting. I haven’t had a specific physical challenge like this since …. well, the Nixon administration.

There was this thing called the President’s Physical Fitness Challenge that involved … something, as I recall,  both presidential and challenging.  All I remember was failing at pull ups while Mr. Griest yelled at me and chipping a tooth (I can show you) falling off a skateboard I tried jump from the stage onto the slippery gym floor.  This was just shortly after getting kicked out of Brownies (in the same gym) after 5 minutes for some comment I proffered on the para-militarism of Brownie uniforms and the ongoing Viet Nam War.

Now, in his defense Mr. Griest might have been shouting encouragement, but since this followed so closely on the Brownie expulsion incident, what I heard was something like the type of abuse heaped on enlistees in the Marines during the first few weeks when they weed out the weaklings as in early, scary scenes of the film Full Metal Jacket. 

Ah, such fond memories of the gym. Is it any wonder it has taken me almost 40 years to arrange this first foray back into the realm of physical goal setting?

But I digress.

Somehow, by sunset yesterday, I was doing final breathing in the second class, and it is was okee dokee. I felt happy and rather empowered to have done something that (for me) feels brave.

How often do we do things that feel brave?  Not stupid, but brave.

Now that I think about it, at the time, I thought the “jump the skateboard off the stage onto the gym floor” was brave.  Now I think it was stupid. So time – and dental repair – can change a point of view.

But seriously, how often do we formally create attempts to brave?  In real life few of us will face truly extraordinary circumstances, unless we are first responders or those who actually made it into the Marines or other armed forces.  Most of our lives follow far a more mundane track. There are those who are thrust into extraordinary circumstances (think of those regular folks who ran toward the danger to help others in the Boston Marathon bombing), but most of us, most of time, don’t need to think a lot about conscious bravery.

This 30 challenge is nothing compared to feats of heroism or strength, but in my tiny world it represents a chance to be a little bit brave. As Christina Sell writes, “the victories and the challenges we encounter in our yoga practice become instructions for how to live more skillfully.”  Further, she says, “During this challenging phase, as our fears and flaws surface, we have a chance to work with those aspects of our personality that get in the way of knowing ourselves on a deeper level.”

Maybe someday, when I face a life challenge or need to be present when someone else does, I’ll be able to offer a little more courage then, too.

-Rabbi Chava Bahle

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 14, 2013 5:59 pm

    I love a great yoga challenge!

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