Before we graduated yoga teacher training, my teacher had us write confessions of faith. Confessions of faith are statements that your Inner Self knows is true, regardless of the thoughts and beliefs we have in our heads. I wrote several but one that has consistently stuck with me is this:
People are operating at their own level of consciousness; they’re just doing the best with what they’ve got based on beliefs and life experience. It may be different than where I am, and that’s okay because we are all different.
I’m not gonna lie, I probably tell myself this a good 30 times a day because my thoughts are usually telling me otherwise. However, this confession of faith has brought me to a deeper level of understanding of the people I’ve encountered in my life. Most importantly, it’s brought me to a deeper understanding of myself.
Over the years, many people have drifted in and out of my life. Some have stuck around; many have not. For the ones who haven’t stuck around, each experience provides an opportunity for learning on some level…but experiences involving a lack of closure I’m still struggling to understand.
Endings like this bother the hell outta me; they’re like the itch I can’t scratch. I will gladly take honesty, even if it hurts my feelings, over lack of closure any day of the week. At least I know where I stand; the finality makes processing and moving on so much easier. I don’t understand how some people are okay with not knowing where things stand. Are they okay with it?
We know ourselves better than anyone around us. We speak these truths every single day in some form of word or action. In every failed relationship I’ve had, whether platonic or romantic, each person has told me their personal truth, who they are at their core. Something I’ve come to realize is in each personal experience I’ve had with one person or another, a situation has presented itself where even though I know they are going to act or react in the manner they are as a person, I somehow expected they would act or react in a manner that was more like me. Does that make sense? I’d expect those who surround themselves with walls to protect themselves to let those walls down with me, those who don’t discuss their feelings to talk me into next week…hopefully you’re picking up what I’m putting down.
It’s unfair, unrealistic and selfish; I realize this in retrospect. The thing is, I had this expectation because our relationship was different. Somehow, some way, they showed me through their words or actions that we had a different thing going; our relationship was unique. There may have been an instance where they stepped outside of their comfort zone and showed me the potential for a greater version of themselves. And those brief instances gave me hope.
So having all this hope that they would continue to step outside of their comfort zone…and then they didn’t…was disappointing to say the least. Inside I’m screaming, “Get on my level! You’ve done it before!” And I can’t understand if our relationship is so unique, why not?! I realize it all comes back to those levels of consciousness, man; we are all doing the best with what we’ve got. I can’t force or push someone to come to a different level; they get there in their own time, even if shared experiences have proved otherwise.
I feel like I’m flying and got sucker punched in the gut at the same time. Learning who you are at your core is a wonderful gift, yet the realization that there are things you do that kinda suck…well, sucks. But it’s a part of the ride in this amazing journey called life. What you do next is up to you. For me? Well, while I figure that out, I’ll just keep telling myself, “We’re all doing the best with what we got.”
In yoga, the concept of aparigraha is essentially letting go. It’s a non-attachment to things, whether that’s physical things or emotional things. It’s about letting go and releasing control and fear in order to live a more content life; it’s about being content with what you have.
This concept of letting go is my biggest struggle. I’m a packrat with physical and emotional stuff. In the last three years, I’ve been laid off, found yoga, lost weight, fell in and out of love twice, graduated teacher training, and started teaching. I work a full-time job and my time outside of that is spent teaching – I teach before work, I teach after work. Hell, I even teach at work on Thursdays twice (before and after my normal hours). I teach so much, I often find myself practicing at odd times (like the middle of the night). I haven’t directly acknowledged it, but I’ve observed my personal practice dwindle from a daily occurrence to just a few times a week when I’m feeling it.
Since I’ve graduated teacher training, I’ve tried to find my footing. Teaching to middle schoolers through Yogarteens, a local non-profit that brings yoga to local middle and high schools, has helped me achieve that as well as build confidence to teach to a group of beginners. In the last month I’ve picked up four weekly studio classes at two different local studios. I have a steady private client I teach several times a week…hence the midnight vinyasas in my basement. It’s really amazing but overwhelming all at once.
So, I decided 2015 is my year of letting go.
Practicing yoga is a constant practice of letting go. I decided to hold myself responsible for a daily practice, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day before I go to bed or right when I wake up. I decided on a 365 day handstand challenge – do a handstand everyday and post a picture to social media with the hashtag #handstand365.
Handstand and I have a love/hate relationship. Generally speaking, I love inversions. The mechanics of getting your feet above your head fascinates me and makes sense all at once. Headstand, forearm stand…I got those and can hold them both for an extended period of time. Handstand? Not so much. I can hop up, and in rare instances where I just don’t care whether I hold it or not, I can. When I really, really want to hold it, I can’t and I get really frustrated. I find when I get really frustrated in yoga, it’s usually because there’s something else that’s lurking beneath the surface that’s digging at me. Doing a handstand is a reminder to let go of expectations and to just have fun. Life is a fun, beautiful thing, even when shit happens…here’s to hoping handstand keeps me in check so I may practice aparigraha.
The second way I’m choosing to let go is by starting this blog. I blogged several years ago and have sporadically guest wrote for various zines and websites over the years. An artist friend once told me, “You are an artist, your medium is language; you paint with words.” I journal regularly as a means of release, but lately it’s not enough. One of my closest friends (yoga teacher, blogger) kept encouraging me to write it all out…just write, and it will all come out.
I’m not a fancy yogi; I’m a human being who happens to do yoga. I love food and eat lots of it. I drink Diet Coke, smoke cigarettes and curse like a sailor. I cry a lot at a myriad of things; I am who I am. But people who know me and have known me for years can say yoga is the one thing I’ve consistently stuck with over the course of my life. Yoga helps me to be a better person.
When I talk to people, I realize we all struggle with the same things: self-worth, validation, love, compassion, and tolerance…too many things to list. But we are all connected, regardless. My hope is this blog helps me let go, and helps others in their path of self-discovery in some way.