Tame That Bitch
You know, the one that lives in my head — and maybe yours, too.
by Danielle Mika Nagel
I get to Starbucks for my morning Americano and sigh while waiting in line. Why is everyone else up so early? My drive to work is filled with complaints about all the construction I have to deal with and the crazy drivers on the road. Why can’t people learn how to drive? When I finally get to work, I become annoyed with how loud everyone is. Do they really need to keep talking about their weekend? I’m in a meeting and am irritated when people don’t align with my point of view. I battle not to roll my eyes and, while I practice deep breathing, say to myself, “These people don’t understand yoga.”
Fifteen years ago, this is where my internal dialogue would remain, a constant stream of complaint and judgment and wondering why everyone else was so irritating; why they couldn’t just relax. If they could, then I could chill and life would be perfect.
After 15 years of practicing yoga — and I mean beyond the mat — unfortunately my internal dialogue still runs like the above (they say it’s a lifelong practice). At some point, though, how I deal with that dialogue took a turn. Today, once I get all my complaints out (usually just inside my head because it feels good to blame everyone else for a bit and embrace the victim), there’s a moment where I stop the bitching, observe my anger, and look within to ask, “What the eff is going on in me?”
I teach, “Your external world is a reflection of your internal world.” If I’m practicing what I’m preaching, I need to recognize that all the “bitches” out there are simply reflecting the bitch in here.
Ugh! So I need to do the work not them?! Exactly. This is the moment where my finger that was pointing towards the other “bitches” points back at me and says, “Clean up your shit.” Cleaning my shit up is a daily, moment-to-moment practice that is supported with a routine.
Below is a schedule I’ve fine-tuned for myself including what I eat to keep my bitch at bay. I don’t follow this exact routine daily since I’m human, but make a conscious effort to incorporate as much of it as possible in order to stay balanced.
5:30am — Wake up (without an alarm), drink a big glass of room temperature water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and meditate for 20 minutes.
6am – Go for a walk along the water with my husband after picking up a tall Americano at Starbucks. Practice yoga for one- to two-hours, preferably before work. Don’t check e-mails or social media until after this practice.
10am — Breakfast of homemade almond milk smoothie and oatmeal with nuts
1pm — Lunch. Best for my mind and digestion is a large salad with a portion of fish or avocado.
5:30pm — Meditate again for 20 minutes.
6pm — Dinner — basically the same as lunch, and sometimes with a Hefeweizen. (Just one, not two!)
7pm — Phone and computer shut off.
8pm — Bathe with the lights low and some bath salts and aromatherapy.
9pm — In bed to journal — mainly as another tool to let go of some thoughts prior to sleep — and to read a few pages of something not too stimulating. (Save 50 Shades of Grey or The 5th Wave for your holiday.)
10pm — Lights out.
When I’m following this routine, my internal dialogue shifts from complaint to compassion. When the bitch inside my head reels her big curly hair out again, I know I’ve deviated too far from the routine.
We will all have our unique ways of balancing ourselves. Some of us may need to eat more frequently or less frequently, substitute a run instead of the walk, or perhaps avoid caffeine and alcohol completely. Take time to discover the daily routine that supports having the best version of yourself show up, internally and externally. The next time you find your bitch coming out, which will most likely happen sometime (or many times today), stop, observe and look within.
Don’t have a regular meditation practice? Start now with Danielle’s One-Week Meditation Challenge.
Danielle Mika Nagel is the Mindfulness Manager at lululemon athletica, creating yoga and meditation programs for the company and collective. She is also a member of the teacher faculty for the Chopra Center of Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California. She teaches yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, and leads teacher trainings, and events internationally, and is a featured teacher for JIYO.com and MyYoga/Gaiam TV. She is originally from Los Angeles and now lives in Vancouver, BC, with her husband and two children.
Photo by Jordan Junck