"I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes I saw the sign Life is demanding without understanding I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes I saw the sign No one's gonna drag you up to get into the light where you belong... But where do you belong?" --Excerpted from Ace of Base's The Sign
"See what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky?" --M. Night Shyamalan
You're on your yoga mat going through your daily practice. As you come into a posture you notice a slight twinge in your hamstring. You think, "Oh it's just a twinge; I'm fine." and you continue through your practice. As you roll up your mat upon completing your practice you notice that your hamstring feels sore. By the end of the day, you're feeling pain in your hamstring, and you've developed a hobble. Sound familiar?
Unfortunately, it's veeeeery familiar to me (right down the the injury location). Your body gives you a sign but you talk yourself out of it. You take a sensation, a signal from your body (or your gut) and you squash it with thoughts. And if you think it happens only on the mat, think again...
I recently realized (yes, sometimes it takes me a while to see something as clear as the Italian nose on my face) that I'm quite the storyteller. Just last year I was in a situation (okay, true confession time -- I was in a few situations...or, more accurately, a handful of situations) in which I was getting some serious "hits," as I like to call them (but being that this post has sign in the title, we'll go with that descriptor), aplenty. I could actually feel them in my body. It felt like being poked by a cattle prod; a hey-you-should-pay-attention-to-this-before-it-bites-you-in-the-ass feeling. It feels like a quick little zing that comes and goes quickly -- sort of like that twinge that can turn into a full blown hamstring pull. If you aren't watching, you can easily miss it...or disregard it...or talk/think yourself out of it.
The signs kept coming -- my body knew the truth. My mind, on the other, hand was off in storyland. It was spinning some sort of yarn in which all of the signs made perfectly good sense. Oh no, not a tweak at all but merely a nice stretch sensation. Yeah, right!!!!!! This is what happens when you let your head take over and steer the ship -- you end up smashing into an ice berg and ripping a huge hole in your ship. Definitely not good.
But I digress. After ignoring a number (a rather large number) of signs last year, I found myself in a situation that was totally inappropriate for me. When I dropped the story, I dropped into the truth. I extricated myself from the situation and put it into the lessons-learned-and-to-be-remembered category. I'm happy to say that I did learn something (actually, I learned a lot of somethings from that situation, which I am profoundly grateful for). A few months ago, I found myself in a situation that could have gone the exact same way. This time, however, I paid attention and not only acknowledged the signs but I let them guide me right out of the situation. Okay, so it may take me a little while to catch on but once I do, I remember and do a course correct. Fool me once, and all...
So today I want you to slooooow down and notice -- what signs are popping up? Check in with sensations. Are you feeling tightness or burning or outright pain? What is your body telling you? What are you ignoring? Don't think about the answers; simply tune into feeling. That might mean sitting for 5 minutes at the beginning and ending of the day to check in with your fine self to see what's showing up. It could mean sitting 5 minutes before and after your yoga practice to tune into your body and leave your mind at the door.
Take it from me, that small investment of time in slowing down will pay off big in avoided disasters -- physical, emotional, or otherwise.