I got an unsought for lesson in acceptance today. Part of it involved letting go my dislike of city rain. Countryside rain is good: think dramatic cloud-driven skies, damp earthy scents, animal footprints filling up with water on a muddy path… I could go on; I love that. So evocative. City rain on the other hand is all impatient pedestrians seemingly intent on eye-gouging you with their umbrellas, dangerously slippery autumn leaves, steamy over-heated shops and buses that never come … Today it was city rain. And I had to accept that.
Stepping out into this unwanted city rain this afternoon came after a session with my teacher, another lesson in acceptance. We were exploring my concerns about teaching, how to make use of the materials he had offered in TT and what I might do with the bits I don’t understand (yet), the bits my rational brain can’t process and where I don’t hear, or perhaps can’t listen to, the hints my body might be giving me. I don’t (yet) trust my body. “How do you feel?” is a question I prefer to answer from a psychological standpoint, and I get creeped out when it turns into “And how does that feel in your body?” But of course that question came up today in various guises. Yoga isn’t an intellectual exercise. And the conversation morphed from the neat answers I thought I wanted to what I really needed — a gentle message about listening to my sense of frustration and accepting it. About acknowledging where I am rather than where I’m not (yet). Not to run before I can walk. Kind of an amusing metaphor to me since I’m always told off by any foot-companion for walking too quickly! 🙂
Some days I get it, this message of acceptance, and it feels good and natural to treat myself like this; other days impatience wins through and everything feels inadequate, half-baked, embarrassingly a work in progress. Cue a mini-rebuke from my teacher about watching the way I talk to myself — avoiding the nots, buts, can’ts, shoulds.
Indeed! Because as much as I feel a lost in my early steps in teaching and too ready to slip into self-criticism, on another level I know I can do this. Each time I teach it feels good and I love doing it and I don’t ever beat myself up afterwards stewing on what I could have done better. Nope, a quick recalculation of timings, remedying shortfalls in technical understanding with some research or physical exploration, reviewing where the students are in their expression of particular poses and how I might work with that — and then I let it go, trusting that the next time will turn out adequately also. These people come to me each week expecting me to teach them and they put their faith in me; I must practise doing the same. I just must. Anything else is dishonest.
Perhaps my litany of anxieties today shows my recent lack of practice? My last āsana practice was a class in London on Saturday and since then I’ve been wallowing in a cold, too sleep-deprived for my morning sitting practice and too focused on the necessary domestic routines each evening for āsana.
Or perhaps it’s that I’m indulging myself knowing I can lean on my teacher for support after a few solo weeks exploring teaching. It’s a bit like being able to sleep better when Hubby is alongside me. I can abdicate some responsibility for watchfulness to him, or something like that. With my teacher I don’t need to have all the answers, I can just be the student. I can be unsteady and he’ll hold me. After all I sure wasn’t going to be impressing him with my natural abilities to take to the teaching skies and fly solo without a second thought…
Not yet anyway.
Until then there’s just practice.