So I have a few new courses this semester as I stated earlier that will require me to stretch and explore myself didactically. I am very excited about all of my adventures in learning because with each new challenge, I feel as if I learn so much about myself that I never quite knew before. For example, I have to give and receive 1:1 practice peer coaching sessions my new coaching course. The details of this bi-directional goal include getting into better mental, physical, and spiritual shape for personal and academic reasons. I was so stressed out during the time that our peer coaching journey began that I felt as if I might be in the midst of a nervous breakdown if I did not make a radical shift soon. Things could simply not continue as they were in my life.
My coach asked me what types of changes I felt were necessary to help me reduce and eliminate the stress in my life. I responded that I needed to get back to meditating on a daily basis first of all and that beyond that, I wanted to find a local aerial yoga class to go to help me with my personal Mind-Body-Medicine fitness goals. Yoga and meditation have always relaxed me and made me feel much better about myself. It was my mindfulness routine; my great escape and I had no idea how much it helped to calm, center, and ground me until I was not participating in either on a regular basis anymore. My reason for wanting to take an aerial yoga class was simply that I wanted to do something fun and outside of my normal grounded yoga routine. I had also heard that this type of yoga is supposed to be fantastic for relieving compression on my spine and joints.
Another of the goals that I discussed with my peer coach was an upcoming experiential research project that I have for my Exercise & Movement course that requires me to write a paper as well. I chose to engage in belly dancing as my new exercise routine for this project in lieu of qi gong or tai chi because our project is all about engaging in a new experience that is new for us (something that we never have participated in before). While I have never truly participated in qi gong or tai chi either, I wanted to take the path less traveled. None of my other classmates chose belly dancing so I did.
I was very out of sorts to discover that my peer coach either was not truly listening to me due to her own personal agenda or that she misunderstood most of what I had said. I will not name my peer coach out of confidentiality, so let’s just call her Coach No. I spent several minutes explaining my goals and my motivations for change to Coach No. This included telling her how and why I had gotten away from my normal yoga and meditation routine and how it only compounded my stress level. I had become engaged, was preparing for a new semester of my Ph.D. program, was preparing to relocate, and found myself dealing with a financial strain, in a very short order.
The first thing that I had done once things had began piling up was to let go of my mindfulness routine. Coach No responded to me with what seemed to be a bit of arrogance and what felt like ambivalence. I did not respond very well to Coach No authoritative attitude at all. Our session felt very strained to me because Coach No triggered my defense mechanism with her condescending attitude about why I simply let myself go and why did I not do what I knew that I should do.
Even after I tried clarifying my situation and my feelings with Coach No several times, I did not feel as if we were even in the same conversation. I felt completely judged by Coach No within the first ten minutes of our session and it simply continued on from there. By the time we were done with this (initial) session, I wanted a new partner. At that moment, I had no desire to have another horrendous session with her like that ever again. I tried to keep an open mind and give my peer coach the benefit of the doubt a few hours after the session was over and I had calmed down thinking that perhaps she was just operating under a severe personal strain that perhaps caused her not to be as objective as she normally would have.
As part of our peer coaching agreement, I requested that my coach hold me accountable to documenting and locating several local gyms that might offer aerial yoga classes. I told Coach No that I would consider keeping a journal to document the progress of my journey or share my blog posts with her concerning this experience. I could let her have unfiltered access to my musings right now, but whom would that serve? I decided that (for now) for the sake of maintaining transparency and to avoid clouding her judgement until our sessions have been completed, I have decided to simply share relevant excerpts with her during our remaining coaching sessions and leave the unvarnished truth for you and me.
So What Happened?
I searched all over my local community, but to no avail. I could not locate any aerial yoga classes that would satisfy my requirements. My search only netted three studios that offered these classes but one of them had closed (when, I had not a clue), one was entirely out of my driving sphere and the last one was far outside of the comfort of my budget. Contrary to popular belief by some, most Ph.D. students live on a very meager budget. My solution to the yoga situation was to purchase an at-home aerial yoga trapeze. I chose this option because of cost and logistics. The yoga trapeze is highly portable making it ideal for me because I can use it indoors or outdoors.
As far as the meditation dilemma was (yes, was) concerned, I decided to simply relax the pressure on myself and meditate several times a week as a ritual instead of trying to meditate every single day in search of comfort from/or response to distress. Meditation is a very spiritual experience for me and I had nearly allowed myself to forget that it could be as simple as a walking meditation, hydro-meditation (shower), guided meditation, prone posture meditation, or a sitting meditation experience. I had learned that for me, meditation is not dependent upon time or location but a willing opportunity. I have learned to tune out many things such as other people and shift my focus inwards on my eternal one.
I will discuss my belly dancing project experience in a different post. Namaste!