Relationship with Anxiety, Law, and Yoga
Today’s blog was sent to us by Holly; she has been practicing yoga at Spira Power Yoga for four years, and she has completed Spira’s 200-hour Teacher Training / Self-Enrichment in 2017. Holly is also an attorney of law. Read her blog about how she made friends with both yoga and anxiety, and how she channels this newfound relationship into productivity at her job.
Holly with her husband, who is also a Spira practitioner enjoying a moment without law, yoga, or anxiety.
Proving conformance with many other things in my life, when I first encountered yoga I disliked it instantly. This was pointless and moronic, I told myself. I would waste no time on this.
I had a similar reaction to law.
Eight years into my legal practice and my yoga practice, I am amazed at the relationships I have developed with each.
I have a third relationship, with anxiety. It is a constant companion. Before yoga, it was unnamed. It inexplicably permeated the fibers of my being, ruining thoughts and relationships. I didn’t realize that anxiety could be like that – a constant and continual relationship. A practice.
The simplest moments can be earth-shattering. Mine happened on an airplane, 2 bourbons in, while talking to the man next to me who ran a string of tae kwon do facilities. He started talking about martial arts assisting his anxiety. And then he gave me the most perfect description of the beast:
It’s the feeling you have when an ambulance is behind you with blaring sirens and lights, and you need to get out of its way. And when you try to get of its way, it stays stuck behind you, blasting horns with the driver screaming. And you have no idea why.
The martial artist struck the mark. Reams of research followed, and I was informed.
Anxiety has been studied more than lab rats. Anxiety has been correlated to adaptation, survival, and intelligence. It’s been medicated. Anxiety has been correlated with wealth, but sometimes I wonder if that’s just because those with wealth have the means to get around to acknowledging or diagnosing it. Anxiety is prevalent in law, although contrary to popular belief it’s because anxiety-prone persons become attorneys, not because law makes us anxious. Importantly, anxiety is separate from pessimism, despite the tendency to conflate the two. I am a very optimistic person, and for this reason, many people would be surprised to read this. (Pessimism increases anxiety though, so watch out.)
The thing is, anxiety makes me a good attorney. It connects facts that seem unconnected, but are. It makes me anticipate the threats that seem minimal or non-existent. When I am in an emergency, it is the fuel for survival that causes me to adapt and see a path out of the problem. Anxiety enables me to shatter reality on a regular basis. In most aspects of life, its horrible. In law, its creativity.
At first, I decided I could just avoid anxiety. I could just decide not to be anxious, unilaterally, like one chooses shoes from a closest or a beer from a bar. When that didn’t work, I would just decide to ignore and compartmentalize it. Then become angry about my inability to ignore it. Then become like the driver in front of the ambulance, screaming in frustration at the blaring lights behind.
So it’s funny that I needed yoga to teach me in life what I had already learned in law. When holding plank for 9 hours (okay, Dora, for 2 minutes) an entire review of what’s happening in your brain is required. There is no ignoring it. When the fact that Carina is making me swing my arms around is some weird movement as part of some crazy circle on my mat and I literally start experiencing a panic attack, I’ve got to address what the hell is going on. Why did attempting sidecrow in Regan’s class make me completely break down and need to leave the room? People, I am generally not someone who cries or has panic attacks. But, identifying off-kilter reactions on the mat helps you identify off-kilter reactions elsewhere. Facing conflicts on the mat helps you face conflicts off the mat.
And so I learned that I was enough, and what comes to me has nothing to do with the past or future. It has to do with this moment, and what I can do it this moment with the tools I have. And, more importantly, how I connect with the tools I have.
My anxiety helps me identify and analyze. My yoga helps me process. My legal practice helps me communicate and get it back out there. Through these three, I interact with the world.
And so, my relationships with yoga, law, and anxiety have interwoven. They complement each other; they move each other; they are holographic fractals of each other. And now, rather than ambulances, they are like water. They carry me; they batter me; they hydrate me. I float, drown, and swim in them. I survive because of them.
I write this because I think it’s important to point out that the teacher training at Spira provided the framework for these realizations. True, I learned some yoga poses, and I practiced A LOT. I connected with glorious people. I learned what holographic fractals are. But I learned far more about myself that I thought I would, and more importantly I learned to look at the world from myself, rather than twisting the world into some odd tool to look back at myself.
I’d highly suggest you try it.
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