As a psychologist I am constantly working with my clients on the idea of ‘Distress Tolerance’. This is important in our lives as we do not want to be too tolerant to unpleasant sensations or emotions as we won’t then be motivated to change them; nor do we want to avoid distress as then we will withdraw from any negative experiences (which can lead to depression, substance misuse and OCD behaviours).
This is also a concept with which I am engaged during my yoga practice. It is said that the yoga mat is a reflection of your life and I think this is where they can be evidenced best. If you can remain in a pose that is not comfortable (but is not painful) and notice how the sensation changes over time, you can apply this to life too. But you must be aware of your limitations as well and not push yourself until you do damage.
Mindfully paying attention to the sensation, without judgement or labels, allows you to notice more and tolerate more both in yoga and in life.
With all of that being said, sometimes we just have to know when to stay put and not push ourselves.
This week I have been working right at the base. I have been ill and have needed a lot of rest. Thursday I put myself first and left work, needing to reschedule my clients (which is a huge deal to me) so that I could rest and feel better. And this got me thinking about comfort.
When I went home I went immediately to comforts and rest. I binge watched my favourite guilty pleasure TV show (One Tree Hill), found a bar of Green & Blacks chocolate in the back of the pantry and pulled out my knitting. It was bliss! It also helped me to recover from my illness and not to prolong it.
When we are ill this is an easy thing to do. We know that rest will do us good. But are we as good at doing this at times when the stress is emotional or mental rather than physical? Do you put yourself first and focus on building from the base upwards?
While it isn’t always best to slow down and rest, I think we need to recognise in ourselves what we need in any given moment. Is it time to push our boundaries and pursue new or creative ideas? Or is it time for old favourites and woolly pijamas?
We need both in our lives. And part of living mindfully is accepting our needs without judgement and meeting these in a healthy way.
Pedicures are a part of my looking-after-myself routine and so I went for one as soon as I could leave the couch! Bliss.