The struggle is real, but it doesn’t have to be this hard

There’s a saying you’ll hear in the massage and bodywork community.

Massage school is where shit goes sideways. You’ll divorce your husband. Quit your job. Move across the world. Change your hair. And so on.

I rolled my eyes when I heard this, so of course the prophecy came true. During massage school I went through two reasonably awful break-ups. I moved. I started as business. I dyed my hair pink. I quit my job.

Which might be why I was so hesitant to pursue the Aston Patterning Certification. Three years of massage school? My life barely survived the first stint and that was only seven months. Plus, I was pretty happy where I was.

Fast forward to the present.

I’m in Tahoe for phase II of the cert and while I haven’t had any desire to leave my husband (we’ve been married for 60 days – less time than a Kardashian) I’m acutely aware of the feelings of unrest that come with rapid change.

There’s a lot of emotion in the room mixed with the scent of essential oils (because massage therapists always seem to have essential oils). Crying on the table. Anxiety over messing up and fear of doing something wrong. Little spats turning explosive over inconsequential things.

And at the same time, incredible transformation.

The struggle is real, but it doesn't have to be this hard #mindset #meditation #meditationblog #mindsettips #naablevyThis applies to all of my classmates, but I’ll speak for myself. When you look at my before and after photos, I have a different body.

My rib flare from years of poorly performed back bending in cheerleading is disappearing. Same for my forward head posture and internally rotated shoulders from a decade of push-ups on unstable shoulders. Even my feet, which have been flat for as long as I can remember are starting to have a hint of an arch.

As my physical form releases its holding patterns and becomes more at ease, I’m also more aware of my feelings of unrest, as if any unresolved issues I’ve elected to deny have found space to come to the surface.

It’s friggen uncomfortable.

Turns out, I’d rather not admit that I’m still nursing hurt feelings over a fallout I had with someone in June or that I’m feeling lost and a little insecure as I move my business into a more public space.

Same goes for that fact that meditating makes me feel mentally deficient. Most of my classmates look like they’re reaching nirvana and I’m squirming it my seat, trying to keep my eyes closed, lest my teacher catch me peeking.

In this discomfort, I’ve asked myself, “Why am I here?” because on paper, it’s not an obvious choice.

I’m a movement teacher first and a bodyworker second. I hate leaving home for long stretches of time. I’m a commitment-phobe in recovery. I’m allergic to stillness and this training starts with daily mediation.

During this morning’s meditation, I got my answer.

As we sat in stillness, my teacher asked us to consider the relationship between stretch and slack.

“Change happens in the stretch, but it’s the slack that allows you to get there.

Creating balance is how you find a place of knowing. Sometimes the knee jerk reaction of not knowing puts us in a panic and we forget what we know.

When this happens, the best thing to do is to let go,” he said.

In that moment, I found clarity…and let go.

I’m a master of stretching. I’m always sprinting towards the next thing, but I seldom allow myself slack, unless you consider slack to be that moment of burnout where you’re so tired you have no choice, but to crash before standing back up and powering on.

If I had to guess why I do this, I’d say it comes from a fear that if I stop, I’ll be forced to truly examine my fears, insecurities and shortcomings and the overwhelm of it will drown my ambition like emotional quicksand.

It’s easier to keep moving.

I was compelled to study this work, because on a visceral level, I knew I need to embrace the slack, but I still hadn’t found balance. The first time I experienced Aston Patterning, I felt a profound sense of ease – and terror at letting go of the tension that I’ve used to push myself through life.

What I’ve realized is that balance isn’t a single point in time, but a continuum. It’s about knowing when to stretch a little beyond your comfort zone and when to settle into the slack to give yourself space to process and regroup.

I don’t care how much of a badass you are. You still need slack.

The beautiful thing is that when you’re able to find ease and compassion for yourself, then you’re able to create it for other people. In taking care of yourself, you create the space to help and take care of others.

The struggle to find balance is real, but the reality is it doesn’t have to be this hard.

The choice is yours.


There are 2 comments on this post

  1. Lori
    10 hours ago

    Life taught me that the longer the stretch, the deeper ther slack. Better to rest sooner for shorter periods than stretch too long and collapse completely.

    1. Nikki Naab-Levy Author
      5 hours ago

      Absolutely! 🙂


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