personal growth, yoga

Finding Your Threshold

Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view, That stand upon the threshold of the new.
Edmund Waller

I don’t know if it was one-too-many sprints up the hill in high school soccer practice or just general wimpiness (I suspect the latter), but I’ve always associated the word threshold with pain. As in: “I’ve reached my threshold, I can’t push any further.” Now that I’m exploring the world of yoga, I find myself using the word threshold to describe the place I’m trying to find – the outer reaches of what I can physically and mentally handle without giving up. As with any practice, the more I do it, the stronger I become and the longer I can stay in positions that drove me to cursing and collapse just a few short weeks ago. But its not just about physical strength. My mind and spirit are stronger too, so that even though it hurts as much as it did weeks ago, I am getting better at sitting with the hurt. In fact, I find it helps not to think of it as “hurt” but as some nebulous something that soon will pass.  I know that sounds like a pile of new age crap, but its true. Try it and prove me wrong.

With all of the focus on pain and discomfort, imagine my surprise when I looked up the word “threshold” and found it defined as: “An entrance or a doorway, the place or point of beginning; the outset.” Huh. So I’ve been associating doorways and new beginnings with pain. That sounds like me. I’d just never seen it so clearly before. What I have seen are the words “Pain! Fear! Stop!” flashing across my brain when I’m presented with the new, something I really want, my heart’s true desire. Perhaps I’m the only one, but I suspect I’m not. Newness can be terrifying. It shakes you up. It shakes you down. It strips away your artifice and sends you naked on a new adventure. Sure, you may get your dream come true. You also might get eaten by a dragon.

But I’ve come to realize, the dragon gets all of us in the end. It makes more sense, to me, to find the adventure while its there for the finding. The grand doorways of life require an almost heroic crossing of a threshold, but you become stronger each time you push up against it.The unknown might be scary and uncomfortable at first, just like a yoga pose that asks you to balance your body in a new way, often head down, very close to crashing into the earth. But with practice, it becomes the new normal and you have grown past boundaries you never realized you’d erected for yourself.

What are the thresholds in your life and how do you reach them? The next time you find one, instead of running away or pulling back, maybe try stepping a little closer and sitting at the edge. Put a toe in the water – your future is waiting for you on the other side. And while you’re there, look for me. I’ll be the one splashing around in the water.

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