It’s been a while since I last posted here. When I did, I posted about stepping out of my comfort zone. While I recognize that one theoretically stands to grow from stepping out of one’s comfort zone, I also recognize that there is a lot to gain from learning to set boundaries as well. Personally, I have a lot of work to cultivate a practice in both of these areas. From a young age, I have been one to keep the peace, so-to-speak. I don’t like conflict and have found that it is often easier to just go along with the flow — even if I have to swallow my pride in the process. I have been working on changing this pattern and setting boundaries for what is and isn’t okay with me.
Because it is more easily recognizable in the world of yoga — perhaps because it was a component of a Teacher Development Program I took in preparation for my final step to becoming a yoga teacher — I began working on setting boundaries in my yoga practice first. My need to do so began with the fact that my ex and I share our yoga space and, while I am not about to give up my ashtanga (mysore style) practice, the practice itself brings up a lot of emotions (especially following the deepest of back bends). In addition, I assist in the room and he does on occasion as well. The physical adjustments the teacher and assistant give sometimes brings the student and teacher rather close to one another. Both the teacher and student can be vulnerable in this relationship so trust is essential. I will add that I *LOVE* being both the teacher and the student.
Recognizing a couple of these adjustments as those that set me off when assisted by him, I took it upon myself to ask him not to assist me in these poses until I am worked through some of the buried pain that surface from the interaction, and also explained my request to my teacher. This was really out of character for the Julie of years past, but felt oddly empowering and wise at the time. Of these two adjustments, only one remains on the avoid list as I continue to do my own mental work.
More recently, I was faced with more choices on where to draw that line when my teacher told me that she wanted me to take a 3 month break from other physical activities (e.g. weight lifting and other training for my Spartan Racing). She noted that she thought my doing so might encourage my body (heart area in particular) to “open up.” I told her that I could not commit to that until after my upcoming race (Spartan Beast in Lebec, CA) but was considering it. I left and my day continued to unfold as usual. As the evening hours set in, I headed to the gym for some physical activity. Thinking about what my teacher had said, I did some cardio but nothing more. The following day was my the anniversary of my stepdad’s death and the sadness was more profound than usual. That night, I reflected on conversations that he and I had on relationships, his willingness to step into a relationship with a women that had 3 young girls to raise, and other values that he tried to instill in me growing up. The next morning, I cried through much of my yoga practice — thinking about how the upcoming months are my most vulnerable, sad days of the year, and my recent break up. I thought about how my life as gym rat has become a part of my existence in this time of my life when I don’t have much else besides family, yoga, and exercise. And I also thought about how I am not yet willing to put myself out there (read: date again) for it took so much trust and faith to let myself fall in love after losing Tom. I am heartbroken still, and I am in still protection mode. This is what I told my yoga teacher when I told her that I didn’t want to “open my heart up” in yoga or to another right now. I told her that I needed my other activities to manage my pain (physical and mental). And it having this conversation, I was setting boundaries.
While there are times when setting boundaries are good, there are also times when boundaries can hold you back. I am doing my best to recognize the difference — and act accordingly. It is my hope that nobody assumes boundaries for my protection (which I haven’t asked for). If it is for their own comfort, than that’s their own business, but I am trying to tear down any unneeded walls.