grace under pressure


Lately I have not been living up to my name. There has been no grace shown to my loved ones or myself as work and life seem to keep throwing lowballs all around.

I’ve been reading/hearing a lot about grit lately. Passion and perseverance in the pursuit of long term goals. In the freakonomics podcast on the topic, grit expert Angela Duckworth says there are four traits that gritty people have in abundance: interest, practice, purpose, and hope.

And I’m hung up on hope. Or lack thereof.

I am not a particularly gritty person. My score on the grit scale was a measly 2 out of 5. It comes out to about the 10th percentile of the general population.

Two things stuck out to me as I listened to the podcast, though. The first being the idea of reference bias. We are our own worst critics, and the standards we judge ourselves by are probably much higher than objective measures. When I think about how much grit it takes to finish medical school, run a half marathon, and start over after a divorce,I am reminded that my 2/5 is relative, and also an underestimation of my grittiness. Yes, I get distracted easily and new projects will always be more fun to me than following things through to completion, but that does not make me worthless.

Which brings me to revelation #2: Shame is not a productive emotion.

In yoga, they are always telling you to let go of things that do not serve you. Shame is a heavy load that most of bear unnecessarily. I know it’s broken me more times than I care to count.

Duckworth goes on to say that it’s important to learn to substitute nuance for novelty. It will always be human nature to prefer the thrill of something new. But there is importance and even pleasure in the nuances. I think once you let go of the shame, it’s easier to focus on the interest and the purpose of your goal.

So shed your shame, feelings of guilt or worthlessness or not-enoughness. Feel yourself become a little lighter. We all need a little grace sometimes.

grace under pressure

29. Savasana 

yoga thoughts

Savasana, or corpse pose, is the final resting pose in just about any yoga class. The yogis will tell you that it’s a time for your body to integrate and absorb everything you’ve just practiced. You let go of the breath you’ve tried to control during the class, and focus instead on mind control.

During savasana, you practice mindfulness. Being mindful of everything you’re experiencing through your five senses. Being fully present and focused on the moment as its happening. When you’re being mindful it’s harder to think ahead to what you will be dashing off to in the next five minutes. The dinner that needs to be cooked. The fight with your mom. The work to be done.

Mindfulness is hard.

I once read that the fastest way to get someone to imagine a red polar bear riding a bicycle is to tell them not to imagine a red polar bear riding a bicycle. I think the same thing happens when the willowy yoga instructor (they’re all willowy, though, aren’t they?) tells the class to clear our minds.

I take a deep inhale in and every good and bad thought rushes in. Some days I find God lying there on my mat and other days I have only unanswered questions. Most days, my mind wanders and tumbles down ten different rabbit holes.

A few days ago I had a new instructor. She told us to focus on the rise and fall of our bellies as we lied there in dead man’s pose. I felt the skin and muscles stretch and relax to accommodate my breaths, and I melted into this quiet place inside of me I hadn’t revisited in a long time.

Sometimes our anxious minds need a break from ourselves.

Namaste and happy Friyay.




(Photo: via the great gemma carroll)

29. Savasana