Learning to navigate the world of yoga is relatively new to me. I didn’t grow up in an ashram or practicing yoga, and I was not surrounded by spiritual people. The idea of a dharma talk at the beginning of class sometimes feels like such a daunting task. I have a very hard time spewing words that I’m not feeling jazzed about, so I occasionally just skip it. But life is always throwing stuff at you so most of the time I have my own personal experiences to share. When I feel very passionate about something I often don’t express myself as well as I wish I could. It’s not for a lack of trying. I’ve been told I’m a diamond in the rough several times and while it’s sort of a compliment it’s sort of an insult too. I may get over excited by things, but I will be the loudest, happiest person cheering you on and celebrating your accomplishments. I may not be dignified but I’m ok with that. I don’t stifle my heart and quite frankly I don’t want to!
A few weeks ago, I had the perfect dharma talk, something that resonated with me that I couldn’t wait to share with my class. The previous week I had an amazing experience with the students at the rehab I’m volunteering with. Twenty people forced into a room to practice yoga. Some wanted to try, some didn’t but by the end of the class I had everyone sitting in meditation for twenty minutes. I received so many thanks, a few tears and praise that when I left I was floating! The next week was very different. While I know some found a few moments of peace it wasn’t the same as the week before. I felt a bit disappointed. Thankfully, it didn’t take me long to snap myself out of it. I couldn’t wait to share this with my class. I had this attachment to the outcome, the feeling I’d get after the class. We’ve all heard about attachment, attachment leads to suffering. People sometimes have a hard time with this, but I had a great example of exactly that. I was attached to the outcome and for a moment I “suffered”, and I was disappointed. The other part of this is that I never started doing this because I wanted them to make me feel good, I started doing this because I know how much it can change your life. The studies of yoga and addiction are incredible. This is my dharma, and I need to give this back.
The second part of this is also the part I allowed my happiness to be dictating outside of myself. That is completely giving my power away. This is something I have done my entire life. I have sought happiness, approval, self-worth, love, all of it through others. I know I’m not the only person like this and it shows itself in such a way that it sometimes seems so virtuous. My mom is a perfect example of this. She was a nurse, pediatric and hospice, the beginning and the end. She was needed and loved by her patients. She was valued by others. When my dad was ill, she retired and cared for him. She was needed, she was valued. He passed away. She was left with just herself. No one needed her anymore, and she never knew how to be happy without doing for others. This is not uncommon. Many people retire and feel like they are no longer of value but how many people in their “prime” feel the same thing? Often, we don’t realize our self-worth and that love is coming from outside sources until those sources are taken away. That is a dangerous time. Please don’t misunderstand me. I believe it is important to help others. To give what gifts you have to offer but we give these gifts freely. I can find joy in helping others, but the joy is in the work. I love to garden. Some seeds flourish and some don’t. I love being able to eat from my garden but more so I love the work - the soil, the energy of the earth, the quiet, the connection. Everything else is just… dinner.
So, in my over excited way I tried to explain this at the beginning of the class, so thrilled about this little nugget, maybe being able to give an example of something so many people have a hard time grasping. Back Fire! Instead of clarity I was on the receiving end of so much love, compassion and sympathy. So sweet! It took me a moment to realize what was going on. “No you’re being too hard on yourself”, “you’re doing such good work” I didn’t get it. Apparently, I had come across as being hard on myself for being hard on myself for being attached to the outcome. I know, you may need to read that sentence again to make sense of it. Some of my students felt like I felt bad about myself but actually I felt really great. I noticed that I was briefly allowing my happiness and worth to come from others and I was able to quickly adjust my thought pattern. Here I am in my over excited way trying to communicate something I always thought was a difficult thing to grasp and it didn't do it.
Handstands? Backbends? Nope, communication, my big obstacle being a yoga teacher. Go figure.