Get comfortable with being uncomfortable!--Jillian Michaels
Find what feels good-- Yoga with Adrienne
I’ve been trying to bring balance to my exercise routine, which, these days, is mostly composed of youtube videos in my basement. Instead of some kind of harmony, I’ve really delved into two extremes:
1. Jillian Michaels, a.k.a. “T.V’s Toughest Trainer” (ala 10 years ago) who pushes you to your limits, yelling through the screen: Don’t rest! Don’t stop! IF YOU WANT ABS LIKE THESE THEY DON’T COME FOR FREE. GET COMFORTABLE WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE!
2. Adriene M. of Yoga with Adriene, whose mantra is “Find What Feels Good” (FWFG), gently encourages through free online yoga videos to listen to your body, know your limits, rest and modify whenever necessary, and never skip the shavasana (aka rest on your back quietly at the end--or if not your back, whatever feels good)
It’s a push-your-body vs. listen-to-your-body kind of dualism. And it’s a kind of whiplash to alternate the videos daily. (NOW--before the comments come streaming in, I’m exaggerating a bit. Jillian doesn’t want injuries, and Adriene promises transformation. But still. They are VERY different).
Truth be told, my strong preference is Yoga with Adriene videos, and the best 5 minutes of my day are spent in shavasana (sorry children, time with you is second, promise…) I need the stretching, need to be in touch with my body, need the resting and flexibility. BUT I know I also need to do some cardio, lift some weights, and push myself over time--even and especially when I’d rather be on my back (though, let’s be real, minus Jillian’s body shaming because that should never be the motivation for exercise).
And isn’t that true for the life of faith? (Come on, you knew I was going to bring God into this metaphor….) I’d rather find what feels good--seek God on a mountaintop, by myself, alone with my thoughts, feeling loved and creating God in the image I need--than be challenged in my faith to the point of sweating it out. And while time alone with God, seeking what I know I need and feels good, is a part of the faith journey, it can’t be all I do.
I know that I also need to push myself--to read books by people with different worldviews or life experiences so that my understanding of God is expanded; to be in community with others who can say, “Kate, I know your intentions are good, but that view negates those whose race, economic status, sexuality are different from yours.” I’ve got blinders when I just do faith on my own and I need the traditions and wisdom of the ages, the challenges from my community to open my heart, and the kick-in-the-metaphorical-butt to really align what I believe with how I live my life. And the truth is, that doesn’t always feel good, but is right and good.
I’m not a doctor and can’t prescribe an exercise routine, but I do challenge all of us to do some spiritual exercises that include both listening to what we think we need and being challenged outside of our comfort zones. Join me in the journey? No spirituality-shaming, ever. Just practice and stretching and pushing. Honesty and vulnerability and showing-up.
Sweat. Rest. Repeat.
By Kate Floyd