IT’S IMPORTANT TO LOOK LIKE AND IDIOT: LET GO
Then he explained about letting your teacher look like an idiot in front of everyone and how important that was. AY! How liberating! What if we let go and just let ourselves look like idiots?! How many more experiences are we allowed to have like that?
WHAT’S ONE MORE HUMBLING EXPERIENCE?
One of my teachers told me once that, in the Iyengar system, when a senior teacher comes they look at your students and let you know whether you are doing well (or not) based on your students “performance.” That they use your students to judge you.
On Monday night I told class that I wouldn’t be demonstrating poses because I’ve been injuring my knees. I was really nervous about it because I thought.. yikes! How will I be clear? On no! My students will struggle!! That old thought came to me… I’d spend all class judging myself as a teacher if my students had a hard time.
So I told class about it, about what I was working with emotionally letting go of….this recognition of a limiting thought pattern and opening up to other options of being, and invited them to work alongside me with their own patterns of thoughts and letting go. We all watched our minds together.
IT’S NOT PERSONAL – SEEKING AFFIRMATION
For so long I’ve been caught up in this paranoia, using what I see to edit myself… I think this is limiting and entangling. I think it isn’t personal. That they are telling me about them, not telling me about me. Although using what I am seeing to help myself become a better teacher… is useful, it’s ultimately limiting my capacity to see because I’m looking from this one lens (of judgment). I can shift away from turning it onto myself and look at them and observe them and just be in response and relationship with that and it feels more accurate, helpful, and like I see much more. I am able to respond so much easier because it’s not all tangled up inside… there isn’t insecurity standing between them and me. Getting out of using judgement as a tool for seeing and finding other ways to see and listen feels really important. Judgment limits our capacity to see because it focuses our attention too narrowly. It’s like wearing blinders.
THE OPPORTUNITY: RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD
For most of class I did really well, found words and clarity, visualizations, sensations, had other students demonstrate things… and THEN there came a moment when I couldn’t think of any other way to show something than to demo it… and the room ERUPTED! “Wait! you said you weren’t going to!”
It was like getting this extra opportunity to not do the pattern…. thing was.. I really had no clue how to teach that without showing… and I would have had to have everyone wait around while I fumbled through explaining it! THAT was terrifying for some reason! Like… this idea of being slow and annoying and fumbley — terrifying. (How inconvenient I would be!)
WHAT’S ONE MORE HUMBLING EXPERIENCE?
Last time I was in New York City taking classes at the Iyengar institute, we were an advanced class going over the standing poses… foundational work, and we were all gasping and groaning and struggling… then the teacher said.. Hey! “What’s one more humbling experience??!” RIGHT!! Fuck it! There are many more to come too!
THE REAL LESSON:
As it turns out, its not the poses, the sequence, the fact that it’s yoga or the philosophy… it’s the lessons that are revealed through going through the motions… the class just provided a platform for something to arrive and to be seen.
TEACHING AS A STUDENT: DITCH THE SCRIPT!
Relief — not having to be something pre-designed…something perfect and scripted… free to be what we are and free to constantly change —
As a kid I grew up in a lot of performance based culture. I competitively rode my horse, gave speeches, acted in plays… then in college — more speeches, plays, dance performances and art shows….Even after college, in several of the yoga teacher trainings that I did… it was always this test to get up in front of everyone and demonstrate and speak / move according to a script that was pre-designed.
DITCH THE SCRIPT:
Last year, my shiatsu teacher was joyfully running around one day shouting… “DITCH THE SCRIPT! DITCH THE SCRIPT! DITCH THE SCRIPT!”…. and I had no idea how to do that… but I think I am starting to get it… Monday’s class was a big step towards that. This injury has stopped me from being able to demonstrate and surprisingly ended a mental pattern that was driving it! I can actually see what is happening and then respond to what’s there, rather than any pre-determined lesson that I had planned for. IT WAS SO COOL! Effortless rather than effortful.
THIS IS NOT WHAT I EXPECTED: ATTACHMENT
“Practice and detachment are the means to still the movements of consciousness.” – BKS Iyengar
Presence and letting go are two wings of one bird. The practice is to stay there, to be present with what actually is. This presence gives us the opportunity to see which attachments hinder our freedom. This seeing and presence ends patterns of suffering. It is not by rigorously denying oneself pieces of life or adhering to rules… but by being present and witnessing with clarity, what is actually happening, that we see we do not need to hold onto things. The letting go just naturally happens.
This life, really has not turned out how I thought it would… and I spent a lot of time in the past years judging it and myself because of that… because it didn’t follow the script I had imagined. Then a new friend said to me the other day… that he could not have designed something so wild, rich, adventurous, or full… that his imagination could not have gifted him with this. Ayyyyy….. that’s a liberating perspective. It situated me right here, in this experience and opened me up to seeing clearly what was happening because it wasn’t through a lens of comparison or attachment. It was through presence and listening that all that conflict went out the window. JUST BE HERE… HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE…HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE…. HERE!
YOGA SUTRA 1.13:
TATRA STHITAU YATNAH ABHYASAH
“Practice is the steadfast effort to still these fluctuations.” – BKS Iyengar
YOGA SUTRA 1.14:
SA TU DIRGHAKALA NAIRANTARYA SATKARA ASEVETAH DRDHABHUMIH
“Long, uninterrupted, alert practice is the firm foundation for restraining the fluctuations.
When effort is continued consistently and for a long time, with earnestness, attention, application and devotion, a foundation is firmly established. Profound wisdom is gained through steady, dedicated, attentive practice….” – BKS Iyengar
Thank you for the reminder of how many reminders, re-learnings, re-forgettings, remembering and returnings we will experience! Over and over and over and over… (what’s one more humbling experience?!)
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”
– Mary Oliver
GRACE DISGUISED AS OBSTACLES:
“The journey from the known
to unknown, from the
unreal to the real, is rarely
revealed in advance.
The potholes, detours,
false starts, and quick retreats
are each honorable,
and even needed in the bigger
scheme, in the forest that can’t
be seen between the trees.
It took years for me to realize
that the very twists and turns
and shadows I labeled “problems”
were really sacred ground
grace disguised as obstacles,
the whole pass a pilgrimage,
mysteries baring themselves
before me all along the way. “