Are you part of the 95%
90 to 95% of the population will take this way out if given the option. The other 5%
'Again,' he said.
I was laying in a pool of sweat. A pool of fear and exhaustion. And I obediently got back up.
He knew there was nothing in the room that would kill me. He knew that the wall I was up against was a wall in my head. He knew I could do it.
But, there was so much fear. Fear of pain. Fear of suffering. Fear of Taking out Angela or Lu who were on either side of me.
'Again,' He said . . . again.
If Dr. Sam gave you, their patient, a choice to do ‘Inhibitory learning’ and explains that it is similar to Pavlovian learning. Unlearning what you have previously learned. But, this type of prescription takes one hell of a lot more; time, effort, dedication, responsibility, planing, preparation, work, and mental anguish, OR you, the patient, could walk to the pharmacy and pick up a bottle of Xanax that Dr. Sam emailed in and you only have to take once a day on your way out the door. Which would you do?
Backbends are not my favorite part of the Ashtanga practice.* When I started this practice I was intrigued by them. But my back hurt and went into spasms after doing 'full wheel.' Mine never looked like a wheel, maybe a prehistoric paleolithic oblong bump.
I admired the few students in the room who could stand up and drop back on their own. I secretly feared the day that I would be told to do that, and honestly thought that I would never be told to do them. I loved how the practice made me feel stronger, so I ignorantly kept practicing. I thought that the teacher would see how poor my backbends were and allow me to 'skip' them.
So when The Boss flip-flopped his hand at me and said, 'You do.' I was mud. All of this fear that I hadn't experienced in many years came rushing back. I was excited about having a new challenge and afraid of hurting myself, afraid of looking like a fool and failing in front of people that I admired.
I had only watched people do this out of the corner of my eye in practice before.
Watched in awe and terror.
The Boss stood next to me and said, 'You do.' So, I walked to the back of my mat and placed my hands on the ground. I was afraid of kicking Danny who was practicing inches behind me so I moved forward a little and repositioned my hands.
The knees bent, there was a jump and my legs came up off of the floor. The world was dark, probably from closing my eyes. A momentary handstand, before I flopped over, into what I was hoping would be a backbend. My feet landed in a pool of my own sweat and slipped out from under me.
'Again,' he said as I was laying there in a pool of my fear disguised as sweat.
Inhibitory learning goes on the idea that exposure dampens anxiety. (1) It does it in a similar way, that taking a beta-blocker works on our fears and anxiety, but without all of the funky side-effects.
Exposure by inhibitory learning is repeatedly exposing the Central Nervous System (CNS) to a fear stimuli in the absence of bad shit happening. (2) For instance, If you learned (incorrectly) that having a panic attack will cause you to have a heart attack and die. Through inhibitory learning you learn that you can have a panic attack and NOT have a heart attack and die.
Learning occurs during exposure. Therapy. (3)
It’s what we do in the Mysore room 6 days a week.
6 days a week in practice we confront our fears and doubts. We come face to face with obstacles that haunt us. Sometimes I take an extra minute in the shower in the morning or wait in the hallway of the yoga studio before beginning the practice. I rationalize that if I take this extra time I won't have time at the end of my practice to do 'that' asana. Maybe I'm calming my mind, preparing to face all of the things that are about to come up in this two hour practice?
Maybe. . .
Really, I'm afraid. That, and it's really hard to keep yourself accountable. That's why we have a teacher, a fellow student, and/or an online community. We get into some deep emotional work with this practice.
Learning how to breath through tough times.
The first time doing an asana there is fear and wonder. The 65 time, frustration, and more fear about not being able to do it. Fear of letting go. Fear of moving on to something that we know is only going to get more difficult.
Is there breathing?
When The Boss flip-flopped his hand at me and said, 'You do.' I was being guided through Inhibitory learning. I was being allowed to fail and test out my fear in a safe environment. I wasn't endangering myself or others, well maybe Angela, Lu and Danny, but I wasn't endangering my future.
I was being pushed beyond my comfort zone.
Dr. Sam has a direct link to your local pharmacy and a vast array of 'gifts' for you. Western medical science has come up with a patch for many health problems. Taking a CNS depressant for PTSD, panic-attacks, OCD, or Social-Anxiety Disorder. (BACK BENDS?!?)
But these aren't ALWAYS the answer.***
There are, in some instances, alternatives to β-blockers, NSAID’s, PPI’s, CNS depressants, etc. AND, in those instances, the alternatives are not for the 95 percenters. They require a mental toughness. They require discipline and a teacher who will guide and keep you accountable.
It's easy to say the answer. Will you take the pill or learn to unlearn previous learning?
But the follow up is what places you in the other 5 percent.
Rx: Practice qd
*** If you are currently taking medicine, DO NOT STOP TAKING YOUR MEDS!!!!!! There are many skilled professionals who can help to assess your individual situation and determine the correct course of action. Seriously, don't stop taking your medication because you read something online. If you really want to be in the 5% do some research, that's being proactive. Reach out to me if you have questions.
(3) Clinical Psychology Review: Inhibitory learning approaches to exposure therapy: A critical review and translation to obsessive-compulsive disorder Ryan J. Jacoby, & Jonathan S. Abramowitz