Be Gentle … It’s My First Time

First Kiss

Picture from Tampa Band Photos

Do you remember your first time?
The anticipation, the subtle scent of perspiration, and the heavy breathing. Maybe you were with someone you cared about, but maybe you felt alone.

I felt this way, my first time. It was exciting, challenging, and sometimes confusing. I thought I knew what I was doing, but it was more than I had expected.

Afterwards I was tired, sore, and sweaty. I felt like I had accomplished something. I remember thinking; I’ll never forget this. I’ll never forget, the first time, the first time I did Cross Fit.

The First Time
Just accept it. The first time you do anything, it’s going to be hard. Some people are naturals, but more often, they’re naturally awkward.

Don’t worry! There are many great things about doing something new. Here are a few things to focus on when you try something new.

The Basics
See that woman at the yoga studio doing prasarita into a headstand. She looks pretty cool right? Think about how cool you would look. Maybe I’ll just try to … STOP! You aren’t that woman.

The best way to start is with the basics. Don’t do complex workouts or heavy weight lifting. Learn the basics and build from there.

Learning bad form increases your chance of injury and limits your ability to go further in your practice. A strong set of fundamentals, will help you achieve more ,whether it’s in weight lifting, yoga, or cross fit.

Ask Me Anything
Who wants to be the guy/girl who doesn’t know anything? You want to be in the ‘IN’ crowd,

The only thing worse then a neophyte, is a falsely confident one. When you are new, let yourself be helpless. People like being treated like experts.

Ask a thousand questions. You never know what might help you and another student afraid to ask.

Notice Negative Thoughts
Starting something new activates your inner critic. Your inner critic is the voice or the part of you that tells you you’re screwing up.

Notice this voice arising. It will say you are awkward, slow, and crazy to try something new. Don’t listen to it, but don’t ignore it either. Just notice it, realize this voice isn’t you, and let it go.

Your inner critic wants you to do well. But it only has one tool and that tool is criticism. By noticing what your inner critic is saying you can work with it.

Be Proud
Be proud of yourself for starting something new, especially if you are over the age of 30. Many people’s lives shrink as they get older. The only way to counter act this is to make trying new things a habit.

I’m not suggesting you pursue novelty, but learning new things is a great way to help us pay attention and appreciate all life has to offer.

MindFitMove Practice
– Pick something to try and do it.
– Sign up for an introductory class, join a meet up group, or find a local yoga shop.
– Don’t invest big money, but make a small commitment to get started this week.
– Make your initial commitment small but consistent.
– You may discover that you don’t like it, but that’s ok.
– You’ll have more time to explore something else.



What Are 3 Aspects of Being A Great Student?

So I haven’t posted in a few days 14 to be exact and I am working on a response to a great question asked of me, but it won’t be ready today so instead I give to you, one answer from my Yoga School application. I know it’s kind of cheating, but I think it was illuminating for me to read what I wrote here and I hope that it helps you as well. I think it applies to almost any situation we find ourselves in that asks us to be a student.

What are 3 aspects of being a student of yoga that are important, and why?

1. It’s important to watch the mind that grasps for achievement – The western mind can be, by virtue of the society in which it was raised, a bit competitive. I know that I have had the competition bug in me and that it can come out no matter what I do. This can happen in yoga just as much as anything else. I want to have perfect form, I want to be more flexible than others, etc. etc. There is nothing wrong with wanting to study and practice with skill, because without any determination I would drop any practice as soon as it got hard. What I have found is that I must expect to lose myself in the effort, rather than gain a new sense of self through it.  

2. It is important to let go of preferences – I think this is true in all aspects of life, but especially when being a student. Each of us can get a certain idea in their head, about how things should happen. The mind believes that if it can think about something enough and set up a model it will prevent suffering and death. In truth these ideas are what lead to suffering in the first place. I know that when I set my preferences and opinions aside and become open to what is happening, that I learn more about myself and any practice I engage in. Holding my preferences lightly and also respecting my own boundaries allows me to stay in the realm of learning with my whole heart. This is a practice I engage in at all times, but I think is essential to keep in mind when studying yoga.

3. Remembering to be present in the body – Meditation, zazen, yoga and many other similar practices are often thought to practices of the mind, but they are practices primarily of the body, or more correctly the mind body. I have a tendency, born of my study of western philosophy, to think of the mind and body as separate. I often tend towards the superiority of the mind over the body, a sort of mind over matter attitude. This way of thinking is not right view. The mind and the body are not two things. To hold the mind and the body upright are holding one thing together. I think I always have to remind myself to be present in the body rather than to try to think my way through something.


Being a NEWB: The practice of being a new person

We’ve all been there before. It’s the first day of school, a new job, a bicycle riding group, fitness class, etc. and we feel lost, confused, and helpless. Here is this group of people that know each other talk the same language, share similar values, wear similar clothes, and know the in’s and outs better than you.

Every time, even if we’ve been the new person a 1000 times, it’s weird awkward and down right scary. We want to be accepted, we want to be in the know, and more than anything we wish we felt comfortable. Very often we feel like little kids all over again.

I recently joined a masters swim club to improve my swimming time and ability. I’ve joined many new groups and know how these things go, but without fail I end up feeling lost, weird, and awkward.

So I decided to write a post about the practice of being a new person, because it is a very interesting practice and it actually reveals alot about who we are.

Step 1: Admit you’re scared and step forward.
When we enter a new group old habits of protection arise, old strategies emerge, old insecurities are abound, because we are unsure we will be taken in by this tribe.

In traditional cultures not being taken in could mean isolation, hunger, and even death; so our fears are well founded. The first step as you enter a new group is to just admit to yourself it’s scary. Trying to act like it’s not scary just makes things harder.

Now that’s not to say that you should be shy, timid, or hesitate. What it means is that you should admit you’re scared and then do your best to go for it. Hesitation only breeds more fear and hesitation, but confidence breeds confidence.

Step 2: You don’t know what you’re talking about.
Whenever we enter a new group it’s best to take the attitude that we don’t know what were talking about. Even if you’ve been in a similar group or setting each group has some specialized language or gestures that you will need to learn.

If you don’t feel comfortable asking questions right away, and I often don’t at first, then just watch very carefully. See what other people are doing and do that. When I first started doing group rides, I learned quickly what hand signals meant. People pointed out potholes and debris, people warned others when they were stopping.

So I would watch and then imitate, imitate, imitate.  Then whatever terms you don’t know just ask about. I don’t know how many times I floundered around in a new group until I figured out what the hell they meant. Just remember it’s cool, you just don’t know what you’re talking about. In reality most people don’t know what they are talking about at some point.

The key is to admit it to yourself, forgive yourself for the awkward mess you may very well be and keep at it. What you shouldn’t do is act like you know what’s going on, esp. if you don’t actually know whats going on.

You may come off a cocky and you set yourself up for quite a fall if you miss a key cue. There are people who can act like old pros and they are old pros. If you are one of these you know it and if you aren’t don’t try to act like one. People love an underdog, so just be an underdog.

Step 3: The trick is to keep going.
Very often in new groups, people are slow to warm up. They may even be pretty skeptical of new members. If you’ve been a part of a public group for a long time you know why this is.Most people who join a group quit within a week or two.Why? Well there are lots of reasons why people don’t stick around, but most people quit because it’s hard to be the new guy and it’s hard to stick with change.

If you have been the veteran member of a group it’s hard to take these new people seriously because most of them quit pretty fast. Why invest time in someone who may very well be gone next week?

Instead people will often wait a few weeks to see if you will stick and then they will get more friendly.  Remember that you are scared of all these new people, but in a way these new people are scared of you too.

You are an unknown entity and value. You could be cool as Elvis and as Saintly and John the Baptist or you could be the exact opposite. The only difference between them and you is they have safe people to talk to instead of you. While you only have yourself to talk to, which I wouldn’t recommend doing out loud when you first join a group.

Remember that every person in this group was the new person once. They were scared and uncomfortable just like you were. The biggest difference between the newbie and the accepted teammate is time.

Take some time and reflect on when you tried something new.

What about it was really scary and what about it was really exciting?

Think of something you have always wanted to try, but never did.

Why not try it now?

What exactly do you have to lose?

Finally, in the groups that you already attend, think about what could you do to help new people feel more comfortable.

The easiest way to get to know people in a group you join, or to get to know new people in your group is to ask open ended questions. Be curious about the people around you, in fact even if you think you know the people in your group now, you’d be surprised what you will find out if you just ask then open ended questions and take the time to really listen.

One thing we often don’t give space for is other peoples lives, hopes, and dreams. We are so caught up in our own agenda we don’t take the time to really hear others. Try to hear one friend or family member this week in a deeper way. You might be surprised with what they have to say.

Thanks for reading and Be Well,