Have you heard of the Tough Mudder race? For those of you who have, I know, looks awesome right? And for those who have not, it is a race that travels across the globe promoting physical fitness and army-like camaraderie via a 10 -12 mile muddy obstacle course. It is the coolest. You can run in a team or by yourself. And the most awesome part about it is the fact that it isn’t timed. People do it for the sake of doing it, for fun and sportsmanship, and of course to be able to say they did it. I am running the May Chicago Mudder with a group of close friends.
As a complete non-runner, but a healthy yoga and dance instructor, I figured 2 months of training would do me just fine. I set the bar low; I planned my first run out at just 20 minutes. No problem right? WRONG. By minute 10, my right knee started screaming bloody murder. I felt shooting pains through the center and side of my patella unlike anything I had ever felt. I could barely walk. My initial thoughts: FUCK! Fuck fuck fuck. Why now? And why me? I always joked that as a dancer, I couldn’t run for my life. But am I actually finding out that I really CAN’T run? I asked my chiropractor at my next appointment if the agony I had felt had been related to my chronic low back pain, and she did an exam. The diagnosis: I have a freakishly tight IT band that pulls my knee out of place. The treatment: Foam roller to the rescue! She said that as long as I roll out my IT band before I run, I should be fine. Enormous sigh of relief.
Notice how my brain went immediately to, OH NO. I can’t run. My body won’t let me. I am LIMITED.
Think about all of the things we assume to be limitations, when in fact, are mere obstacles. It is so hard to tell the difference sometimes that we just opt out of making the distinction. We make excuses. “I don’t run.” “I can’t dance. I have no rhythm.” “My nerves just take over when I speak in public.” If we put in just a little bit of effort into deciphering our limitations from our obstacles, we might all be doing, learning and experiencing vastly different things right now.
And please, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, we are limited. Severe injuries, traumatic experiences, illnesses, diseases and genetics can all be limiting. As a yoga instructor who believes that the practice looks and feels different on each individual body, I urge my students to honor and respect their own limitations and to always take care of themselves. And if my students suffer from anything on that list I mentioned, I make sure they do it. But, from my own experience and from watching others, I believe it is in that space between comfort and limitation that we grow the most, learn the most, and feel the most alive. In the space of taking risks.
Anyone who has been to Rooted can tell you about that space – of vulnerability, of putting yourself out there, emotions and all. Taking the risk to share your-feelings-with, express-yourself-around, or create-art near anyone let alone a group of strangers can be hard, uncomfortable, and even nauseating for some of us. But, maybe this discomfort is just an obstacle instead of a limitation? At Rooted we believe that it is 100% completely and totally worth it! Rooted creates a safe space, yes, but we together give ourselves the permission to be exactly who we are, say exactly what we think, and feel exactly how we feel. And when we create a safe space for ourselves, we can let go of expectations we may have for ourselves or that others may have for us… we release our limitations…we can take the leap toward truth – learning more about our true selves, and learning more about our capabilities. So, I say, let’s start investigating those self-imposed “limitations” and start breaking down walls.