Getting up

Quote of the day:
On change: “If you [only] do what you’ve always done, you’ll [only] get what you’ve always gotten.”
–Dr Susan Jeffers, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

I woke up this morning feeling very reluctant to leave the warm nest of my bed and bedroom. I just wanted to curl inside myself and stay withdrawn for the rest of the day. But Tuesday morning means yoga time, so I got up. Today, because of the rain and how I was feeling, I allowed myself to drive to class instead of walking. It was a good choice, because once I started the car my audiobook (Dr Jeffers’s book) began telling me how to get energized about doing things I don’t want to do.

Dr Jeffers calls it the “magic duo.” First, even if you hate what you’re doing, commit to doing it 100%. Be present. Second, act as if it really counts. Even if you don’t think anyone notices your work, even if you think it doesn’t matter whether you do anything, you have to act as if it’s vital.

Luckily, yoga makes it easy to do these two things, and my teacher Linda makes it even easier. I had expected a small class today, because of the rain, but instead the studio was the fullest I’ve seen it. Linda smiled and said that once upon a time, she would have wanted to walk out of such a full class, but now she sees it as a gift. In my previous studio, I also hated such full classes, but somehow at City Yoga (I think it’s the windows) and in Linda’s class, the fullness really was a gift. Linda says that the energy of such a large group “lifts us up.” I did feel much more supported than usual, and I even got closer to bakasana than ever before. Near the end we lay on our backs and stretched one leg out to the side, and everyone held their neighbor’s ankle up and out. We must have looked very funny, all tired-out and intertwined, but it felt marvelous, and we never could have done it in a nice empty class of only a few people. I left class feeling very balanced and deeply, quietly glad I had gone.

Going to Linda’s class twice a week, and especially this morning’s going when I didn’t want to get up, has made me remember Twyla Tharp’s words about her own 5AM workout routine in her book, The Creative Habit:

It’s a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning makes it repeatable, easy to do. It reduces the chance I would skip it or do it differently.

First steps are hard. Like everyone, I have days when I wake up, stare at the ceiling, and ask myself, Gee, do I feel like working out today? But the quasi-religious power I attach to this ritual keeps me from rolling over and going back to sleep.

It’s vital to establish some rituals–automatic but decisive patterns of behavior–at the beginning of the creative process, when you are most at peril of turning back, chickening out, giving up, or going the wrong way.

The ritual erases the question of whether or not I like it. It’s also a friendly reminder that I’m doing the right thing. (I’ve done it before. It was good. I’ll do it again.)

That last bit, the part in parentheses, is actually what got me out of bed this morning. Nestled in my warm bed, I had to remind myself: I’ve done it before, and it was good. So I’ll do it again. And I did, and working through that reluctance and doing yoga on an off-day has reinforced the ritual for me. Even when it was rainy, I was tired, and the class was full, it was a good thing to do. On Thursday, I’ll do it again.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at]