Anxiety, Awkwardness. Abolition.

a-to-z-letters-aIn a leadership exercise several years ago I scored as a ‘Hurry Up’ personality – something that surprised me somewhat, as did the implications. I am a goal setter and always have been, I’m happiest when I feel like I’m achieving something and then moving onto the next. What had never occurred to me was the missed opportunities at cost nor the impact this has on managing people others who are less likely to be dominated by this personality type (only 2 of 15 of us hit this of around 5 personality types).

Over time I feel and hope that I’ve gone a long way to addressing this, I invest more time in listening, training and check that my frustrations are not built on impatience. The results have been phenomenal – but limited to the workplace. I definitely have different personas in and out of work, socially and professionally (not necessarily the same categories) and a need to interact. In work I can build strong networks and contacts, support others and have new doors opened up easily. I have no hesitation in meeting new people and a confidence in my area that is somehow not reflected when the topic steers away from the professional. In fact, when discussing other matters, I often find my way pre-emting the conversation, trying to steer the direction in my head or ensure that I have something to contribute. Often that leaves me in a position of over talking or appearing disinterested – worse I miss what has been said to me and respond with a pressed ‘mmm’ and slight nod because I’m lost. And then I need to move on, get out, bury my head back in work to conquer the feelings of awkwardness and anxiety.

When I discuss this with people I’m more comfortable with they can’t understand what I’m trying to explain as they see me in a totally different light, usually chirpy, bouncing around, singing and having fun. The only thing I was ever advised was that I’ll grow out of it – but at 29 I was beginning to resign myself to the fact this was simply not going to happen and I would have to deal with that.

So what does this have to do with Bikram Yoga?

At the end of the 90 minute workout, having worked every single muscle imaginable (in the brain too), stretched, resisted opportunity to gasp for air and compressed the blood forcing it through the joints on release all the while looking for the end it would be natural to assume that the recommended 2-5 minutes stillness is embraced. It is not compulsory recovery and with the muscles twitching water is always my firsts thought. As I lay and look at the ceiling it is a peculiar effort to shut my eyes. I inhale ‘deep belly breaths’ and imagine my stomach is whale size to get the much craved oxygen in. And with 30 seconds gone I want to get up. I force my arms by my sides and concentrate on not moving. My legs shift without consultation. Eyes opening to glance at how many are left in the room I force them shut – we have a whole 1/2 hour so there is no reason to be concerned with this. I lift my arms up to the ceiling, despite hating every second of having to hold them in the air during exercise. Every day I go through this experience and only recently have I realised this is it – this is what I need to fight to learn what relaxation actually means – not just flopping as and when it suits but being in control of the body, resisting the need to move on and actually being in the moment.

From my previous post you may have noted that I have discussed the improvement in my communication with people I don’t know – I now do know several of those people to stop and chat to beyond the initial greetings, I’ve learned about the day to day stuff in their lives and I never feel awkward bumping into the again – not the staff at Pret, other Yogis / Yoginis, the staff at the centre… people approach me far more often and I even have wordless conversations on tubes (regular commuters may understand this). The satisfaction is immense and I only hope that through continued practise I can abolish my concern for the direction of a conversation, hush the brains’ need to ‘Hurry Up’ and loose the awkward inhibitions that this cocktail of needless effort imposes.


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