I often heard her say things like, “I’ve got one nerve left and you are standing on it!”
I was an eavesdropper. It came from a place of curiosity. I always wanted to know what the adults were talking about. When I overheard my great aunt talked about “kicking the bucket,” I pictured her outside in her well-loved garden playing soccer with her watering pail.
It took me a while to learn that idioms were not to be taken literally.
Other idioms I recall from growing up:
“I feel like I’ve been rode hard and put up wet.”
“You’re running around like a chicken with your head cut off.”
If my father wanted me to eat something healthy, he’d tell me it would put hair on my chest. Yay, just what every 11-year-old girl wants.
Lately in my continuing yoga work, I’ve been studying how the nervous system is affected by yoga.
In this work, I’m listening more intently and noticing these idioms:
These are idioms you can take literally. They are all ways of describing how our body feels.
When I see a scary movie, I don’t say, “That movie made my body secrete cortisol and my dopamine levels drop.”
“That movie gave me the creeps,” is what I’m apt to say.
It conveys the way I felt after watching the movie. It’s hard to describe in words so another person can know how we are feeling.
What if we rush past the feeling so fast that we don’t notice it? Or we are too busy to deal with it so we quiet the feeling down with substances like food or alcohol?
When you hear yourself saying something is getting on your nerves, you can take this literally. It means your nervous system is being affected. And If you take a little time to tune in, you can make some conscious choices.
You can figure out if what’s getting on your nerves is under your control. If it is, decide if you want to continue with it or walk away. If you’re stuck with the situation, look for ways to soothe your nerves as you deal with the inevitable.
Yoga practice provides the moment where you get to tune in. Yoga practice provides ways to steady your nerves as you deal with situations beyond your control.
In yoga, developing strong muscles and flexible hamstrings is just the beginning!
“Yoga enables us to cure what need not be endured, and endure what cannot be cured.” — BKS Iyengar