Regenerative Practice and Cognitive Reappraisal

Earlier this year I introduced yoga back into my life.

At first, it was simply to help me alleviate the tension I’ve been carrying in my body for as long as I can remember, but more recently I’ve been leaning into it for another purpose: to address my spiritual hard-headedness.

And heaven knows I need this. Without the moments of quiet cognitive reappraisal offered by yoga, I can get a bit reactionary—pulling too tight or pushing too hard when the stress-strain curve of my life is already warning me that I’m approaching a breaking point.

As I mentioned in an earlier writing: knowing this sort of thing about myself is insufficient if it does not tied to something practicable.

During today’s yoga session, it occurred to me that I’ve been pushing much too hard and taking too much on. I haven’t been listening to the patterns of my life, and have been reacting to the “off” feeling in the air by seeking—or trying to create—certainty where maybe it isn’t necessary.

I’m not surprised by this revelation—in fact, I think I need to forgive myself for having forgotten this important bit of self-knowledge. I know (thanks to the excellent work of Dr. David Rock) that our brains are wired to delight in signals pertaining to status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness—and each of us exhibits a particular affinity to some of those factors more so than others.

In my case, I feel most rewarded (and psychologically safe) when I feel my circumstances yield a satisfactory degree of certainty and fairness. I start misstepping when those things are out of whack, which puts me in a threat state that can negatively impact the quality of my work, my ability to be present, and my relationships.

A couple of months ago, more than a couple of people suggested that I ought to slow down and use my downtime to take better care of myself. Unfortunately, I was so caught up in work (and trying to fight my way out of a threat state) that I wasn’t listening, and I couldn’t detect the strain that I was emitting.

Now, I’m 20 pounds lighter and a pacing anxiously all the time—behaving erratically when what I need to do is hold space for peace, quiet, reflection and healing.

To that end, I’m going to take the rest of the year to focus on well-being and gratitude. I’m going to reappraise my psychological (and physical) environments to counter my need for certainty—and remember to slacken while I listen to what the world, my body, my relationships and the patterns of my life are telling me.

I’ll find certainty in discipline, consistency, humility and self-care. I’ll find fairness in practicing self-love diligently rather than reading about it.

I’ll slow down and extend my hand in trust to the universe , as well the people I meet in it.

I’m going to keep my old apartment, which I love, but learn to enjoy the new one as a little psychic oasis outside of the city where I’ll have a no-device/no-internet policy. I’m fortunate that I have the means to do this—and I must.

And, most of all, I’ll honor my long-held belief that everything works out beautifully as it should.

Thanks for the help in discovering this next step in my life, reclining pigeon pose.

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