The Aha Moment

Have you given up on your training practice because it seems too hard?

Is there something you have been practicing for a long time but progress seems illusive?

Get back to it.  Keep at it.  Find support from a friend, teacher or coach.  Surprise awaits you.

The culmination of practice often brings results when you least expect.

I see this all the time with clients. After I show them a new exercise, I see the battle within their minds. They say, “You make that look so easy, but I’ll never get there.”

My reply is always, “I’ve been practicing this for a long time.”

We’re Building Something Here

When a client struggles with a new exercise, I break it down into steps or modify it. We break it down to build it back up with a strong foundation. The body often gains understanding of how to do a movement while the mind stays occupied with judgment and comparison. I believe that is why the Aha Moment seems to come out of nowhere.

In Combattitude, the Aha Moment comes up all the time. We practice and break down a movement, practice and break down, practice and break down. The mind quiets down because it can’t keep up. When we stop thinking and just move, the Aha Moment smacks us like a Dharma stick. We’ve got it and we’ll never lose it.

At age 17, I taught myself to do headstand by following the Sivananda Companion to Yoga. It was a lesson in patience. Without the book’s guidance, I would have practiced headstand throwing my legs up in the air and hoping they would just find a way to stay in the air.

The book specifically broke down the steps to getting into headstand with the instruction to practice each step for a period time before adding the next. It was to teach the body to build a strong foundation then align and stabilize the spine on top of that foundation.

It took months but the “Aha! I got it!” moment, when I actually held a headstand for over a minute, did come. It never left me. Those headstand lessons became so ingrained in my muscle memory that I can get into headstand as easily as I can get out of bed.

Break down what you are trying to accomplish into smaller steps or phases.  Repeat them until they become second nature.  Then put the pieces back together.

Same Lesson Years Later

I have spent time this summer building my handstand and forearm stand practice, just as I did my headstand those years ago. Coincidentally, my six-year-old nephew recruited me last night into helping him do handstands and headstands.

After each “failed” attempt at standing on his hands or head by throwing his legs in the air, he proclaimed, “I can’t do it. It’s too hard.” and angrily threw his arms down by his side or across his chest. Like his aunt, he wants to be brilliant the first time he tries anything.

Once the emotional storm blew over, I showed him the steps I learned to build the headstand.  I showed how to use the wall for handstand.  In playfully demonstrating a forearm stand, I found my legs hovering overhead without the support of the wall. Aha! I had never done that before and I’ve practiced quite a bit in the last year. What a pleasant surprise!  I got it because my mind had let go of expectations.  I was just goofing around.  Without the pressure of getting it right, my body was free to do what it had learned.

My nephew is well on his way to his Aha Moment with his headstand. The handstand is not far behind. In my opinion, he is quite a yogi in the making. I look forward to when his stance changes from arms down in defeat to arms up in victory.

If you have been working really hard to get something.  Put it away for a while.  Let it steep.  When you come back to it, just play.  You might surprise yourself.

  • What do you wish you could do but think is out of reach?
  • What are you working on but can’t quite get?
  • What do you wish you had help understanding how to do?

Leave a comment and let’s see what we can accomplish together.

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