The year 2014 has been amazing so far! I went to the National Championship game in Pasadena, I finally got a new job (that I love!) and my nephews were coming for a visit during their Spring Break. The night before they came I was cleaning up around the house and then it happened. I hit my foot in the SAME spot where I had broken it just two years ago. It immediately began to swell and looked the same as when I broke it. The only difference was that I could walk on it. After a few deep breaths and a few panicked phone calls I iced and elevated my foot. As I sat there a peace came over me. Whatever the injury was I knew that I’d deal with it. I had been down this road before and knew I could overcome it. The real question was, why was it happening again and smacking me right in the face (the same foot, really?!) What hadn’t I learned and what was this trying to teach me? I wish I was completely enlightened and could tell you that I saw immediately what it was, but as is too often the case, I take time to reflect and realize what I need to take away from these moments – and that lesson is, consistency.
In my yoga teacher training there was one yoga sutra that was THE one that everything kept coming back to:
1.14 - “This practice is firmly rooted only when it is cultivated with respect and skill for a long uninterrupted period.”
The reason this sutra was THE one during my training requires a little explanation. I was moved at work from one location to another and suffice it to say that my commute went from an hour a day to now 3 hours a day. After a daily drive like that it’s hard to put into words, but it’s almost as if you’re a zombie. Sure I needed yoga but when was I going to fit it in? I left my house at 6:30 in the morning and didn’t get home till 6:30. I sure as heck wasn’t going to drive another 30 minutes just to get to a yoga class (although sometimes I did and that made me all the more angry). I got used to the idea of doing yoga on the weekends and began to blame work for my lack of yoga (this went on for a good 6 months). During my teacher training I had a breakdown – I was blaming my commute as the reason I couldn’t have an uninterrupted daily practice. I began to realize that yoga was so much more than just the asanas. I didn’t have to practice in a studio, I could practice at home. Yoga could simply be my meditation for the day or might simply be some sun salutations (it didn’t have to be an hour and a half yoga class in a studio). And so after yoga teacher training I returned home and created my yoga practice. I knew that I wanted to have an effective daily practice and knew that meant meditation, breathing, asanas, and yoga sutra study. Just when I thought I was getting it all together, I broke my foot. I thought I had come to terms with my newfound yoga practice, however, there was more to this sutra that I had to learn: now that I wasn’t “firmly rooted” how was I going to not only be consistent but how was I going to grow? During the time that I broke my foot everything came back to my breath. There were times that all I could do was breathe. MC Yogi’s song, Breath Control, became my mantra. I knew that I was cultivating other aspects of my yoga practice and that with my breath I’d be able to go deeper into a pose or it might just keep me where I needed to be. Simple breath control. I also had a tendency to rush through things before breaking my foot. I was learning patience. Little did I know that my broken foot would pave the way for me to be patient in my search for a new job. 2 ½ years later, I’ve found a job that had I accepted another job in between I never would have been available for this one. And so it was a little over a month ago that I was reminded of this sutra and that I hadn’t learned all there was to learn. My injury was there to remind me (and it will keep happening until I really learn it). And this week at work, consistency continued to be the theme, allowing me to see that in all that I do (or that anyone does) steadiness, balance and patience are required.
Throughout many of my sessions this week I kept noticing that I kept repeating to my patients that with Diabetes the main way to control their disease was with consistency. I was teaching my “Domine la Diabetes” class and one thing that I mention to the patients is that they need to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner (& snacks if they’re going more than 4 hours without). There shouldn’t be any skipping of meals (if you have diabetes or not!). Our bodies are like cars and they need fuel; fuel being the food that we eat. We want our bodies to operate efficiently and with that comes the goal of striving to have a schedule and CONSISTENT meal pattern. There I said it. My patients didn’t know why I had just chuckled to myself, but I knew why. In all that we do consistency helps create a habit. And like with anything this takes work. I explained to my patients that if they were skipping a meal that might be the most important thing that they could do to change and help better control their diabetes. The key is being CONSISTENT. The following day I was teaching a newly diagnosed diabetic (adult-onset type 1) about the mechanism of action of the two types of insulin she was taking. She was using her quick-acting insulin to help cover the carbohydrates at her meal time as well as correcting a high blood glucose value, but she wasn’t using her basal insulin optimally. She was injecting it but at different times of the day/night. I explained to her that we recommend to inject at the time same (whether she chose day or night) but to be consistent with that time (it works for 24 hours). Again, a small little chuckle to myself at this whole “consistency” theme going on. I continued to explain to my patient that unfortunately that would be the hardest part of her diabetes self-management, consistency. She’d need to be consistent with her medicine, consistent with her meals, and even more consistent with the carbohydrates at each meal. As I talked to her later on in the week she noticed an improvement in her blood glucose levels just by this consistency. She thanked me and let me know that it wasn’t going to be easy. I simply told her, “Consistency is our goal, but that it was going to take patience and lots of work.” And just as my week was ending, I heard my co-worker explaining to a patient the use of foot cream. We had a talk given by one of the podiatrists at work a little while back and someone asked him which foot cream we should use. He replied by saying that it doesn’t matter how expensive or inexpensive the cream is, just make sure to use it DAILY. Consistency.
It took over a month for my foot to fully heal. While my asanas were on hold it didn’t mean my meditation, yoga sutra study, & breath control needed to be. The practice of yoga is meant to integrate ALL 8 limbs. I realized that never before had I been able to merge all 8 limbs. It was right around this time that I was slowly beginning back that my yoga teacher joined Instagram. She launched a #reallyrealyoga campaign and it couldn’t have been more perfect timing. This whole month of May has been me working on consistency with my practice (all 8 limbs). I’m not looking for a perfect practice, but I am looking to grow from my practice. And with a few words of wisdom from my yoga teacher (in regards to meditation) that really sums up what I am trying to bring to my daily yoga practice:
Consistency – a little is better than none, but the truth is, you’ve got to do this regularly and with devotion.
Acceptance – accept that you are exactly where you are meant to be, accept that your life is unfolding exactly as it should.
Patience – you already are who you are meant to be.
Change – change is scary, try to embrace change, for without it, things would never grow, move forward, evolve.
Free Will – you always have a choice, you must choose this inward journey in order to discover it.
As cliché as it sounds, I’m happy I hurt my foot again. It stopped me in my tracks and made me realize that it was going to keep on happening if I didn’t change what I was doing. It’s made my daily practice grow and for that I’m grateful.