Process vs. Product & Yoga

Today started with a conversation (in my head) about Process vs. Product.  I even started a conversation on Facebook about it.  The resulting discussion was interesting.  I got to know a lot more about how my friends view the subject as relating to knitting, spinning and crafting.  I loved reading all the responses.

In my Morning Pages, I found myself writing about how I am not, at all, process oriented.  I like measurable goals.  I like finishing projects.  Even when spinning, while I may not know what the yarn I am spinning will grow up to be, I am creating a product – the yarn.  My knitting is even more goal oriented, which is why when I have a long term project, like a sweater, on the needles, I also am working on other, smaller projects.

I’m into immediate gratification.  I like making jewelry, because in a short period of time, I can have a necklace or a pair of earrings.  Maybe not in one day, but certainly within a couple of days.  I’m not really good at process oriented tasks.  I hate treadmill and biking on the trainer.  I don’t get anywhere.  I also don’t like walking for the sake of exercising because, again, I don’t get anywhere.  Contrast this with my life in the city, when I walked, far distances, for the sake of transporting myself from one place to another.  Sometimes it was faster to walk, sometimes I walked because I felt like it.  But still, there was always the goal of getting somewhere.

Maybe that’s part of why I feel so frustrated these days.  I’m not really going anywhere.  I don’t have any short-term goals. I have long term goals.  If I keep plugging away, maybe I’ll finish the novel in this lifetime.  I’d like to finish, at least a first draft, in the next few months.  It’s hard for me to keep an eye on the finishes project when it’s such a long haul.  75,000-100,00 words (in an order that makes sense) is really hard to do (for me, at least).

Which brings me to yoga.  Yoga is, intrinsically, a process.  It’s not about the goal, there’s nowhere to get.  Which is, I think, why I have so much difficulty getting to the mat each day.  However, it’s also something that I’m drawn back to again, and again, and again.

So today, I got myself to the mat.

As you all know, if you’ve been reading this blog, I’ve been in a bad fibromyalgia flare-up for months.  I’ve been increasingly limited in what I can do.  Even sitting for long stretches of time is agonizing.  Like now, actually.  But, I know from past experience that yoga, done daily, will eventually make me feel better.  So this this what happened:

I decided that I needed to do pain-free yoga.

This is probably not shocking to any of you, that yoga can be (and should be) a pain-free experience.  However, I’ve never done it that way.  I’ve always stretched ’til it hurt.  I wanted to accomplish something.  I wanted to get flexible…fast.  And I’ve always gotten fed up and quit…for months (or years) at a time.

I borrowed some of this and some of that from all the teachers that I’ve had over the years.  I started with some easy stretches.  I took it to my previous discomfort level, then backed it off, so I was comfortable.  The goal was to be moving, mindfully, not trying to accomplish anything.  It was nice.  I ended with 3 1/2 sun-salutations (no floor work, just mountain, backbend, forward bend, forward bend extension, etc).  I felt refreshed.

Then I remembered that Savasana is necessary for the body to integrate the session.  As I lay on the mat, my mind went into a Yoga Nidra –  deep, step by step awareness.  My knowledge of human anatomy serves me well, because as I focused, sequentially, on part of my body, I was able to visualize them.  Using a technique I learned by listening to and reading Jon Kabat-Zinn, as I finished (let’s say an entire leg), I let it slip out of my consciousness.  Eventually, I was left, just as consciousness and breath.  For the first time in months, I was completely pain-free.  Just awareness and breath.  It was lovely.

I’d like to say that this lack of pain lasted through my return to regular, waking consciousness…but it didn’t.  I got stiff and sore fairly quickly.  But what has remained with me is the knowledge that every time I want to, I can return to that state.  Now, THAT is enough to bring me back to the mat on a daily basis.   Process….indeed.

I’m interested in comments, especially from people who have an established yoga practice.  I’m curious as to how this relates to your experience.  Of course,  I am also interested in those who do any kind of hand-work, and whether they are move invested in process or product.




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