Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tranquil Tuesdays: When The Deck is Stacked Against You

A few months ago I indulged in the TV show Survivor and I was surprised to find that a lesson I learned from a reality show has stuck with me so strongly.
In this particular episode, there was a challenge in which 2 recently voted-out contestants (a male and a female) had the opportunity to return to the game. For this particular challenge, the eliminated players had to form the tallest structure by stacking cards one by one before the time ran out.
Survivor Blood vs. Water- Episode 12
Photo Courtesy of:
As the minutes ticked by and the stacks grew taller, sweat began to pour down the two contestants’ brows as they nervously placed yet another cards atop their wobbly structure. 
The female contestant had taken a substantial lead against the male player until suddenly, during an attempt to place another card on top, the entire tower plummeted. Cards flew everywhere. She let out a huge sigh of defeat, and with less than a minute left on the clock, knew it is unlikely that she could catch up to the other player’s 7 foot tall tower.
Other contestants yelled out words of encouragement such as “Nice try”, making it clear they thought it was over.
But the female contestant continued to plow on.
The camera zoomed in to the determined and passionate look on her face. She proceeded to hurriedly pick up the cards and began to build a new tower. Slowly, her stack of cards began to rise to one foot…and then higher. Not once during this time did she look over at the other player’s far higher tower next to her.
Seconds remained when, unexpectedly, the other contestant’s stacked tower completely crashed to the ground. The woman miraculously won the challenge with her 2 foot high stack of cards! She smiled widely, relishing in the notion that she got to stay in the game.

Hitting the Wall of Limitations

Photo Courtesy of: The Huffington Post
The next day while in yoga class, I too felt as though I was no longer in control of my stack of cards.
My peaceful mind suddenly began to roam wildly when my back unexpectedly experienced an intensely painful muscle spasm. I began to grow upset as I had done everything I was supposed to do in order to prevent the pain from occurring that day. After all, I had drank plenty of water, had slowly and patiently worked myself into each yoga posture, and even heated/iced my back prior to arriving for class.
For the past year, I have had terrible back spasms, some so crippling that I have had to miss out on many important events. I have worked furiously to feel better by going to many specialists such as a chiropractor, acupuncturist, physical therapist, and spinal surgeon. 
In addition, I practice at least 30 minutes of yoga daily in order to improve my flexibility and remain physically healthy.
Yet, some days I still feel as though I am experiencing day 1 of excruciating pain all over again. While one day I may feel incredible in a yoga posture, experiencing a sense of painless openness; other days may require a lot of blocks and modifications in order to get into the same pose.
On this particular day in yoga class, my back hurt even while lying down in Savasnasa. As everyone around me lay there calmly, slowly sinking deeper and deeper into a feeling of tranquility, I continuously squirmed around, hoping to find a comfortable way to lie down that would eliminate the intensely hot pain I was experiencing.
Suddenly, my mind went back to the woman on Survivor and how she dealt with her toppled structure. And so I turned over onto my stomach, slowly inhaling and exhaling. While my back sure didn’t feel like a strong and sturdy tower, I knew that I should be proud of my effort to get to yoga class. By staying on my yoga mat and working through the pain, I too was choosing to stay in the game.

Dig in and Dig Deeper

So the next time you feel defeat setting in, I urge you to push past it. Going to yoga for me is like getting my car washed: I know that is a helpful and necessary part of my routine.
If you don’t nourish your body and mind regularly, all of the “muck” that you didn’t wash off prior to the next storm will get stuck there even deeper. So do yourself a favor and take control of your hand of cards.

Below is your daily dose of inspiration....

Create a Tranquil Day,

*Tranquil Tuesdays will be the first Tuesday of every month. 
*For one of my favorite yoga-stretching YouTube videos that helps me to find back relief, click here.
*For more tranquil related articles, read the article "A Novice's Tale of Yoga Journaling" that I wrote for the Yoga or check out November's Thankful Tuesday series: Parts 1, 2, & 3

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