All right- it's Saturday and I am enjoying a weekend of largely unscheduled time- the first in a long time. I am fighting a sore throat so the timing is great o be able to rest a bit and renew. I, as I usually do when I come home after a long trip, am faced with an overwhelming desire to reorganize my closets and engage in other nesting-type activities. And now that it seems the heat of the summer has passed I think its time to get out some fall clothes and put away the huge stack of thin t-shirts and tank tops.
Yesterday I spent some time working on Yoga Convo with Elena and then had some accupuncture, met Gia for a visit to the nail salon and lunch at Central Market then did a restorative asana practice and then headed out to my photo shoot for Lululemon. That was a lot of fun although I had planned all of these arm balancing type poses and when we got to the shoot Liz, the photographer, said she needed upright, vertical poses. (Think natrajasana, not vasisthasana.) Anyway, I wasn't exactly prepared for natrajasana but we went for it anyway and I think we got some great stuff to work with, although I am a bit sore today from holding things on the same side for an hour! The picture above was kind of a warm up shot and things improved as we worked.
My life has been so full this fall and I have to say that each event I have been part of has felt like a lifetime of learning. I am in what feels like a growth spurt as a teacher. Some of that is marked by growing outer work and opportunity but mostly I am referring to a level of inner shifting that is occurring for me. It's a bit hard to explain and I certainly feel more "in the process of it" than "on the other side of it" but I feel a profound shift happening that is both expansive and grounded in a new way.
I have really been working a lot this year with the idea that life is not coming at me from outside, but life is coming at me from inside. I am not speaking about a lightweight new-age kind of "you create your own reality" kind of thing although this does come pretty close to that kind of idea, I suppose. I am talking about this more from the immediate sense of getting myself off the blame game and stepping into greater and deeper levels of accountability for my life and my responses to my circumstances. Elena and I were talking about his in some of our preliminary taping the other day and one thing I realized is that for me for many years, in attempting to stop blaming others, I just blamed myself.
But you know, rarely is the solution for one thing, its opposite. Usually, the solution for something comes, not in its negative or opposite aspect, but from a different vantage point all together. For instance, my teacher once told me that the solution for financial insecurity is not having money. The solution is having faith in one's ability to earn money. Or for those of us out there who are desperate for approval from others, the solution for that is NOT in getting someone else (no matter who it is- society at large, the teacher, the lover, the parents, etc.) to finally tell us we are great. The solution to that seemingly insatiable need for approval is in honoring ourselves, in learning to approve of ourselves and in accepting our own validation as credible.
The more I go along in my life the more I see how fundamental positive self-regard really is. Gia and I were talking about this yesterday. We were talking about how once we move into the place of self-love the easier it actually is to look at and own our less-than-stellar personality manifestations. It's a bit paradoxical but from a place of deep regard for myself I am more able to see those surface level manifestations for what they are- samskaras, conditioning and outdated coping strategies- not as me or as proof of my worth or lack thereof. However, when I am not in an inner place of self-regard, I am much more identified with those outer layers and confronting them directly feels much scarier.
Emma said something insightful on the topic also. She was talking about how any time we can accept ourselves it is going to be healing and it is going to help our ability to be functional in our relationships. She was saying how, when we are judging ourselves, we are typically coming from a place of shame and that shame perspective makes us very prickly where others are concerned. If I am in a place of shame and you tell me I am too intense, for instance, I am going defend myself. If I am in a place of self-acceptance and you tell me that, I am more likely to be able to laugh a bit and be like, "Yep, wow, that's me in my intensity with my pitta flame burning too brightly. Sorry about that, thanks for letting me know!"
See that's the thing- the comment from the outside is the same in each situation so it really has nothing to do with what is said on one level. (That doesn't mean we, as friends, colleagues, teachers and students shouldn't keep in mind The Four Gates of Speech: Is it truthful? Is it necessary to say? Is it the appropriate time? Can it be said in a kind way? We should definitely be keeping these in mind but that is a different topic and post for a different day!) See, even if someone violates all Four Gates of Speech and says something very false, unnecessary, untimely and mean to us, we do not have to abandon ourselves to our shame-based beliefs! We really don't.
Of course, none of this is easy and all of it takes a mountain of inner work to even get in the neighborhood of, but I am convinced these days that there is a deep freedom to be had in the process of claiming this level of accountability for ourselves. If we have to have the outer world organized around avoiding every one of our prickly places, we are going to be at the mercy of the outer world. Life will be coming at us from the outside in. Every time. And that, my friends, is the Path of the Ordinary Human.
But if, we organize our inner lives around moving deeper into positive regard and acceptance for ourselves, suddenly we are less prickly even if other people are not "behaving well" and just by loving ourselves more and more, we begin to live in a much more loving world. And that, my friends, is the Path of the Yogi.