I wanted to share a bit from an email exchange I had a little while ago.
Because it’s interesting, possibly helpful and also just really sweet.
So please enjoy this charming letter from Nathan in Scotland, who has kindly given me permission to reprint some of our correspondence here, in the hopes that my answer to him may prove useful to others.
And even if not, it will at least teach you something about the art of writing email subject headers:
Shiva Nata, ego pumping, expanding comfort zones and a disabled duck (that’s me)
Now that is a subject header. How can you not love Nathan instantly? I don’t know either.
Here it is:
Actually I’m more of an otter than a duck (and I haven’t swim for years – long story), but I thought styling myself as a duck might help you and Selma pop over into my comfort zone for a chat and cookie (but be quick, before I eat them all up).
I just discovered you this week, either through Dave “Procrastibuster” Navarro or your net-crush Naomi and wow, I’m in love.
Not in the creepy, knife-wielding, busting-in-at-3am way, but in the “holy crap, this stuff speaks to me” way. Underline “speaks”, then read that sentence again. Done? Okay, moving on…
I especially liked your post on staying within your comfort zone – as someone struggling with severe anxiety and agoraphobia it really made a lot more sense than most of the stuff out there.
So I’m working on expanding my comfort zone, rather than painfully trying to break through it. Good. Major success: I made 2 phone calls, setting aside for a day a major phone phobia. Wow.
(Ego-stroking aside: I’m just digging into your Dissolving Procrastination course, and today I took a big step and asked advice on a business idea in a forum visited by people I hugely respect. Got good advice too. Yay for both of us!)
Now, to the funkiness of Shiva Nata. It sounds great, but I’m wondering if I can physically stand it.
I have severe Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. Basically, that means I hurt like buggery – especially when I exert myself (eg get out of bed) – and have no energy at all. Ever.
I can rarely stand without crutches, my balance is screwed (especially if I close my eyes) and I can’t stand for more than a couple of minutes at a time max.
I tried doing a specially adapted yoga for people with Chronic Fatigue a couple of years ago, I was able to do a couple of “just lie on the floor” poses for a few minutes each – then I had to sleep for 2 days straight.
Do you reckon there’s any chance I’ll be able to adapt Shiva Nata to my barely-working body?
PS: I would apologise for the essay, but I like a good natter :)
Wow. Right? I know!
And here’s my response:
Hello my dear,
I like a good natter as well (or I would if I could get away with using charming Britishims) and you certainly know how to grab a girl’s attention.
Ducks + interesting subject headers = WIN.
Also: this is an awesome letter. I love that you made those two phone calls and that you’re celebrating it.
Okay, wow. It sounds like you’re dealing with all sorts of hard stuff. Between the pain and the exhaustion, I’d have to say I don’t think Shiva Nata would be the best thing for you right now, as it can be pretty taxing and also involves a lot of arm/shoulder work.
Even if you were to take the balance part out of the equation by having you just do the arm positions, I still don’t think it would be good.
What I would do is to start for now doing a lot of breathing exercises.
The relaxing kind, not the intense kind. Working on developing a practice of deep, conscious breathing.
Maybe alternate nostril breathing or inhale on a count of four, exhale eight, and then gradually adding very, very short pauses. Breath work will build core strength and stomach strength and focus you a lot as well.
Also tapping on acupressure points — I talk about this type of thing in the Emergency Calming Techniques package, or I can make some other recommendations for you if you like.
Also Yoga Nidra, which is a guided relaxation practice. You lie on the floor and someone talks you through relaxations, and you plan an intention in your subconscious.
So I’d start with that sort of thing and wait and see what you can work through and how it progresses for now.
This is a very interesting theme and a useful question!
Take care and be well, thanks for inviting me into your comfort zone!
Havi (and Selma)
And here’s his response:
More awesomeness: I made a ‘stranger’ phone call today (had to find a random lawyer to notarise some documents) with NO panic or anxiety at all.
I was thinking about what you wrote about procrastination and fear simply being signals from your brain that something isn’t right, and you have to dig deeper to comfort it and find the real problem. Dynamite!
Thanks for your honest opinion on my coping with Shiva Nata (especially since its cost you some money) at the moment. I’m looking into Yoga Nidra and I’ll probably get Richard’s book soon. I’m working on my breathing, especially noticing how my chest moves, and it seems to be helping me calm.
Please do feel free to turn my question into an Ask Havi (honoured I am! blush I will!), my comfort zone now includes your blog, so no problems there :)
And here’s the part that’s for you:
What I love about this whole exchange (aside from what a fabulously amusing correspondent he is) is how Nathan is actively and consciously applying the stuff that I teach and talk about all the time.
- Bringing attention — in the most guilt-free way possible — to what’s going on.
- Asking for help and support … but without defining what that help and support needs to look like.
- Being patient with himself and the limitations that he’s dealing with right now.
- Acknowledging that hey, stuff is hard sometimes and that he’s allowed to hate it.
- Celebrating successes in the best way possible.
(Not “I made the call, but who knows what the outcome will be …” but “I was afraid, I let myself be afraid, I did it, I wasn’t afraid … wow, four things I can be really happy with.”)
It’s really important to me to make the point here that Shiva Nata works even when you’re not doing it. Right now, Nathan is applying lessons from the practice, even though he cannot yet physically do the practice.
He can still practice true yoga: the science of learning how you work and liking yourself anyway.
As Krishnamacharya (the teacher of both Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga Vinyasana) once said — and I’m paraphrasing here like mad — if you can breathe and wiggle your fingers, you can do yoga.
And Krishnamacharya was a badass and apparently quite a hard man in many ways. So I hope it’s clear that the benefits of this practice do not only show up for people who are fit or have a certain body or are mathematical geniuses.
Which is my last point:
The benefits are there for all of us.
And knowing this, what I would also urge Nathan to do is to read the numbers aloud. Just absorbing the sequences.
2-2 3-3 4-4 1-1
4-4 3-3 2-2 1-1
2-4 3-3 4-2 1-1
4-2 3-3 2-4 1-1
Because there is magic in the numbers. And there is logic and beauty in the numbers.
And even though I recognize as I type this how crazy this sounds, just the sequences themselves hold so much power and so much information about what patterns are and how they work.
Everyone send Nathan a hug and wish him care, love and everything he needs!