First days of TT offered all sorts of new experiences — obviously. One major feature was observation in various ways. We practised watching each other in a pose; we were asked to begin to reflect on anatomical alignment and energetic qualities. This needs much more experience and understanding than I currently have, but these first attempts were fascinating. Seeing how different bodies express the same pose makes me much less concerned about my own form: provided I can feel where I am and I am consciously and deliberately there, that’s all that matters. So all the early fears of ‘is my āsana good enough’ don’t seem to matter.
This physical observation was interesting, but I could conduct it relatively dispassionately. What was much more difficult was the level of self-observation I conducted. Sure, my āsana practice was OK, just what it is, but what about my emotional and behavioural tendencies?
The first weekend was a protracted exercise in countering my usual tendencies, most of them variations on tension and fear and self-doubt. And yet I willingly challenged myself over and over against my natural inclinations: to talk in front of other people in expressing my thoughts and experiences as well as in formally instructing yoga sequences, to lead the morning chant, being around people all the day, some mad dancing, volunteering for things I didn’t really want to do, practising patience and love even when I thought people were talking various sorts of nonsense…
And alongside all of this I was aware my teacher was witness to everything in the room, and I was thinking of the idea of the teacher holding a mirror up, allowing us to see more clearly how we act/react, the ways of movement we have, the beliefs and thought patterns we take refuge in. I think my teacher’s mirror has more of a soft-focus than my own does. He’s challenging but not critical, allowing one dignity and space to consider the reflection. The mirror I hold up is more like a scarily over-illuminated magnifier showing every imperfection in terrifying detail!! So this too is a tendency to notice. But at least I keep my eyes open most of the time 🙂