When is enough, enough?

“Learn to go beyond your limits”. It’s a popular self-help mantra of many modern gurus. Our world seems full of people, books and billboards telling us we don’t need to live according to our limits. That instead we should push beyond them. I’m not going to deny that our mind can keep us trapped by creating false limits, but as unpopular as it is, real limits exist too.

Over the last few weeks I’ve had to face some new limits. As my pregnancy draws to an end I’ve found I get tired more easily, I don’t move as freely and, on the flip side, I need to eat more frequently. If I didn’t listen to all these messages where would I end up? Hungry, sleep deprived and packed full of pulled muscles. Not a good example of a yogic lifestyle. Instead I’ve listened to my body’s messages and learnt to take things easy, ask for help and say, “Stop”, “Enough” and “No”.

The best way I’ve found to learn about my limits is on the yoga mat. It’s a safe non-judgemental space for me to observe my body and mind. Each time I practice an asana I listen to the messages coming from my mind and body. I watch for internal cues that inform me when I need to release the pose: sometimes it’s a physical limit other times it’s a mental one.

It’s taken me years to tune into the truth of the messages my mind and body gives me. Even now my ego sometimes runs the show over-riding the subtle cues and letting me believe that it’s OK to push through and do things the same way they were done last time.

But there is always a limit.  Slowly my awareness of my limits has developed. The beauty of yoga, for me, is that as awareness developed in one part of my life it transferred itself into other aspects of my life: as my on the mat awareness developed I was increasingly able to acknowledge and work with my limits in other aspects of my life. And in the very recent past this has been indispensable.

Image courtesy of MarkyBon

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