Week Ten: The art of distraction

I remember going to a yoga retreat, about 3 years ago with my mom. Very woke of us, I know.

There was a session where the yoga teacher instructed us to get into this very unnatural squat/birthing position and put all of our weight on our toes and to not move.

It was an unsettling contortion that was a source of discomfort as opposed to zen.

I questioned what the hell I was doing at a yoga retreat in the first place. I looked out the window, shifted weight from one set of toes to the other, squeezed my eyes open and shut. I did pretty much anything to distract myself from what was actually happening.

After what felt like 2 hours, but in reality was no more than 2 minutes, the yoga teacher talked to us about how we have a tendency to try and distract ourselves from the things we find uncomfortable.

I have thought about this practice a lot in the last few years. I would think about it when I  had encroaching deadline I wanted to ignore, an uncomfortable conversation I didn’t want to have or life admin I was just letting build up, instead of facing head on.  I would fill that space with problems my friends needed fixing, putting on sheet masks, going for gin and tonics, hoovering, long phone conversations about nothing and going for longer than necessary walks. Sometimes I would iron my entire wardrobe. Procrastination is as unique as each person performing it.

I think about this yoga practice now. I imagine that we are all just sitting on our toes, and we are trying to find ways to distract ourselves, but it is more difficult than ever, because a lot of the things that add colour to our life have been taken away for the time being.

Week ten of the adventure has taught me that while it can be extremely difficult to face up to uncomfortable feelings, it is inevitable that the more we ignore them, the more likely they are to manifest. That manifestation may be feeling cranky as opposed to sad, randomly letting out a little sob, being anti-social just incase anyone brings up the C-word or deciding to burn yourself out with busyness so you can prolong the period of time between now and dealing with how you feel about now.

Week ten of the adventure has shown me that  taking a break from being stoic about the whole situation is okay. Up until this week, I have focused on all of the positive things and have thanked my lucky stars for the countless reasons that I am so much luckier than many other people. A slight break, even a 30 second break from this constant forced positivity would be met with feelings of guilt.

To admit that I was angry and sad and worried and helpless would be submitting to the circumstances and therefore I would be admitting to the fact that I have no control over the next few weeks, none of us do. Admitting that I felt angry and sad and worried and helpless would also, in my eyes, be almost making light of those who are in far worse circumstances.

I have been finding that the only way to stay calm has been systematically following the same routine on a daily basis, “staying busy in the bubble.” I have found that the only way to stay calm is ignoring how I actually feel. Right now, I actually feel scared and pissed off.

But what about all the people out there who are more scared and pissed off, and are living through worse off circumstances?

Now I feel scared and pissed off and guilty.

None of us like to admit defeat. We like to be rational, level headed and proactive to the naked eye. These are the attractive traits to have. These traits make it seem like you are un-phased and have your shit together.

You don’t see people putting up Instagram stories of themselves staring at their bedroom ceiling questioning the meaning of life. You see them putting up Instragams of them doing 5Ks and facetiming their nan.

What is the correct way to feel right now? How do we know we’re doing this right?

We don’t.

At the end of the yogic practice I was talking about earlier, the yoga teacher said, the purpose of that flow was to teach us about patience and trust.

You had to be patient during the discomfort and you had to trust in the process.

As we approach another week of “Yeah it’s mad alright”, let’s be patient during the discomfort and trust in the process. Let us also not be afraid to throw our toys out of the pram if we damn well feel like doing so, because our prams are ours, and if they are shitty, they’re shitty. Do not feel guilty for feeling scared and/or pissed off, there is no prize for being perfect during this shit show.

I also recommend turning up your favourite jams and dancing around like a feral monkey, that helps too.

Things I’m grateful for this week:

1. Fresh pyjamas
2. Fresh air
3. Exciting Times
4. Marriage Story
5. Baby oranges
6. Zoom
7. Group chats
8. The National
9. Fanny packs (It’s not ironic anymore)
10. Asics (25 and living for that sweet arch support)

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