My workouts have become a strange, full-body conversation with myself. I like to start with a hug.
I am teacher, learner and observer, simultaneously and in turn, all of us enjoying each others' company as we move and challenge this body, which is ourselves, in baby-steps towards increased resiliency and longevity. I am also body, feeling the animal satisfaction of using my strength, becoming stronger and more supple. My body leads the movement, telling me what stretch it needs, when it needs to run, when it's time to really push and when it's time to ease and stick to subtle movements.
I like to play a little with myself, dare myself to do something hard and laugh with myself when I fall over. I encourage myself, often out loud, "why don't you try..." and "look how strong you are!" I let myself be impressed by progress the way I am for everyone else. I love my trying hard self. Simultaneously, I feel that love fill me with acceptance the way I once thought a lover's love should fill you. A lover's love can never find all the hidden places, but this love, from myself, enters cracks and crevices in my soul that I didn't know were rent.
At some point in the workout I might look myself in the eye, in the mirror, and ask, how are you? When the corners of my eyes soften with loving recognition I see myself there, beyond the pupils, and I meet my emotional need as it rises with love, sympathy, compassion and acceptance. I coax myself back from the brink of self-pity with soothing tones evolving into encouraging words that help me climb out of the gaping space of longing for what I know not. I decide to let the part of me that wants to wallow be loosened, cajoled since there is nothing to be done about it anyway. I wait, and find that I really mean it, for now. I smile at myself, massage my cheeks, put gentle pressure on my eyes and forehead. I rub my neck and loosen the hair at the back of my skull. I remind myself, you ROCK! Well, I love you, anyway. And I matter.
I know I can again bend to shoulder the burden that is mine, only mine, while I train for the strength to bear it with more grace.