We’re starting something new today. It’s called Mantra Monday. Mantra’s are my jam – because they’re like self-talk on steroids. And girlfriend loves self-talk. So on Mondays, we’ll feature a mantra. I’ll share one of mine soon, but in the meantime I’ve asked some of the inspiring women in my life to share theirs.
First up is Kira Campbell. Kira and I met at BurnCycle, where she quickly became one of my ride-or-die instructors. I love taking her class – she’s the perfect blend of coach/DJ/Gandhi. My time riding with her always leaves me feeling better about myself and this world. I’ve got nothing but love for you, Kira! While there are many nuggets of wisdom that I’ve picked up from her, one of them stands above all the rest…
“Open your mouth to breathe. Don’t be quiet. Don’t try and hide the evidence of your hard work.”
This lands in a sensitive spot for me. In the past (and present) I’ve found myself feeling self conscious, even shameful at times, when I appear to be struggling. This is true in many areas of my life, certainly when it comes to physical fitness. Like when I breathe heavy as I run up a hill. Or hang onto a red face for hours after a grueling workout. When I heard Kira characterize it as “evidence of hard work” a lightbulb went off. A weight lifted. Some shame fell away.
So, I asked Kira if she would share a bit about that mantra with all of us. Take it away Kira!
*All words are Kira’s, but I added the bold emphasis.
“Open your mouth and breathe, be honest baby! Don’t cover over your hard work. Your breathlessness is evidence of your effort,” I say as I get a double-hand-high-five-ish gesture from the dimly lit back row. It reminds me of someone throwing their hands up and saying either “fuck it” or “Hallelujah.” I’m into it, either way. I can relate to it, either way. How quick and automatic it is for us to erase any evidence of emotions had, of effort expelled, of discomfort endured. A huge wave comes, rocks the boat, flips and demolishes the boat, and the first place we go to is this wide open, empty and panic-inducing room of “how do I repair this?
The need to fix is completely inherent, I think. And in a way it’s actually pretty narrow. We want to rebuild, or redirect in some cases, into a familiar feeling. A familiar looking cruise ship. We know how to pack everything we could possibly need into one space and go on to just kinda sail the straight and narrow feeling fully-prepared and also fully guarded. What are we protecting ourselves from exactly? And outside of this whole narrative existing solely is our head, what is ACTUALLY HAPPENING?! Oh. The terrifying, wonderful, inexplicable mystery of our life that we are endlessly busy trying to manage. Oh…
Our society is often described as the “comfort nation.” We purchase just the right pillows, cover them with cases that are just the right thread count. We work 50-hour work weeks to earn a paycheck that will prevent TOTAL CHAOS “just in case something comes up.” It’s very legitimate and we’ve all gotten very good at justifying our actions. All of them. We go to sometimes extreme lengths to cushion our bodies from discomfort and ourselves from harm. As if we could live an entire life without harm or discomfort! Is that not the most endearing thing? A valiant effort, really. These guards and padded walls we erect are not wrong. They just help us micro-manage how we’re perceived. How we’re known. What I’m getting at here is that we want to control all the little moving pieces of our lives so we can look a certain way to the world. It sounds small, and it is small. And yet it matters SO MUCH to us! Why, exactly? Because we want to belong. This is a universal, inherent yearning. I’m actually going to call it a NEED rather than a want. Security, safety, belonging- they’re synonymous in our hearts and they are absolutely necessary for us to be able to notice any suffering, insecurity, danger in others and DO something about it.
So how does this all apply to you panting like a cart-horse in my spin class? Permission, spread like wild fire. You opening your breath and feeling secure in the exhaustion you’ve challenged yourself to achieve allows the person next to you to do the same. Instead of feeling like the entire world is silent outside of their body, they can feel the ability to blend. A subtle ease of “togetherness.” All the sudden they’re not alone in this deeply unsettling, honestly-kinda-shitty struggle! All the sudden we grow out of the small & worn-out britches of the “horribly-out-of-shape, anonymous, probably-never-going-to-change, bad bad person who has no business being here,” and we slip into a deep-seated comfort in the skin that’s already here. An essential instrument in an orchestra. A wave in the ocean. A mouth on a face. A beer with your pizza. All the sudden we are seen as who we ACTUALLY are, and holy shit it’s not causing a commotion. It’s almost as if no one has a problem with it. All the sudden we are freed of all speculation, and we belong. Nothing to prove, nothing to explain. All the sudden no one belongs here more than you.
Moral of the story? Throw your hands up and say fuck it! Hallelujah! Double-high-five a person, don’t question it! It’s going to make their day and remind them that as homeless as the mind can sometimes feel, our bodies are always home. Let’s collectively catch our breath, baby.
With warmth and a massive sigh of relief,