“Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open."~ BKS Iyengar
When I was six I used to compete in acclaimed national musical festivals. I was good, and I knew it. With youth on my side and a healthy strong ego attached to my innocence, tossed with a genuine desire to excel, I began my tapestry. I have this theory that our most instinctive journeys are similar to the webbing of our nervous system. It is through the nerves that we receive all our sensory and motor messages. I am also believe, it was through these early performing arts experiences, that I begin to lay my foundation, framework, and fears.
As these childhood and adolescent pathways were magnetically charging me towards greater challenges in the arts, my confidence somewhere along that journey was becoming damaged, bruised, and maybe a little shattered. I continued to sing my way through high school plays, community theatre, youth choirs and amateur productions, but the accolades I received instilled a paralysing fear in me, instead of building me up with my 6-year old confidence.
I can recall several auditions and performances that were tension filled and the stakes high. Higher than any other emotional charge I could ignite for myself. Those moments were imprinted on my soul like nerve damage to muscles. These gigs were branding me, for better or worse, inside and out.
The repetitive cycle of fear induced emotions like failure, judgment, and criticism, became a constant as they sat on my shoulder. Or so my psyche thought; and I began to accept my imperfections as I lost the drive for excellence. I continued to sing my way through this ‘playbox,’
into young adulthood, and without knowing, I simultaneously began to manifest what I feared the most; accomplishment, failure, judgment, and loneliness.
Herein lies a very important question for any one of us who has a strong self-critic, who lives with perceived or self-judgment, shame, or who has experienced a perfectionist complex: How can we successfully repave the foundational pathways so our brains can receive more positive influences and messages to the inner self? For me, the answer was finding my way to a yoga mat and cultivating a practice.
When our bodies endure nerve damage, there are inaccurate and deficient messages being sent to the brain. Similarly, when we self-critique, we miss the opportunity to be our very best selves, disregarding the cues, the praise, and the positive messages to the psyche.
As I race against time fast-approaching middle age, the intellect in me encourages me to relish in my great accomplishments. Just like I did instinctually as my 6-year-old self. Today, I use my yoga to assist greatly with bringing harmony to my body and mind. And although that same critic appears on my mat as I come to practise from time to time, her unfavourable remarks be it about my practice, my commitment, or my drive are quieter and less meaningful each time . My self-critic is the nerve damage to my soul who I am constantly rehabilitating with my yoga. When the body and mind have balance, I am able to ride high above shame, which is the best accomplishment.
By the way, my self-critic just texted me, “Yoga isn’t always the answer to everything,” she proclaimed. But, my confident adult-self believes yoga truly is a conduit to the answers which in which we seek . Namaste