My boss in the office often tells me that change is hard. My yoga teacher tells me the same. Change is the name of the game right now, in both worlds corporate and yoga. And they’re right: it is hard!
In yoga I am trying my practice a new way. Sure, it might not end up looking so very different, who knows, but it’s starting with a change in my attitude. My question: if I could approach my practice differently, more open-heartedly, what might follow from that? I’m trying to rewrite some old stories that I’ve told myself so often I feel they’re imprinted on me. If you could reach through all the protective layers I’ve carefully built up through a lifetime to cut my heart open I imagine it would say ‘not good enough’ the whole way through it, like a stick of sickly seaside rock.
That’s what my emotional brain tells me, at least; my inner drama queen, my most vocal critic. And I talked such things over with a friend today. I fessed up to some current fears: I’m meeting my teacher tomorrow and instead of being filled with excitement at the learning opportunity that this truly is, instead I’m retreating back into old, anxious patterns of thought. Currently I have two competing calamity scenarios running through my brain: either he’ll sit down opposite me and quietly and ever so gently tell me I’m not cut out for this, that it’s time we all stopped pretending I’m a good yoga student and say it’s quits, that really there’s no place for me in his class; I should go back to where I came from.
That would be bad.
What might be worse is the other scenario: he might take me seriously and expect me to step up and make some big shapes on my mat and pay serious attention to my alignment and integrity. He might tell me simply to stop procrastinating and get on with the poses I’m finding difficult, he might follow up on the awkward contemplation questions he told me to reflect on, he might ask to see the small video he suggested I make of my home practice. In short he might assume that I do have it in me!
What would be worse: to be told to give up trying or to be told to give up the excuses for not trying?
What a messy mind I have! My friend stepped into the chasm in my logical thinking, pointing out that between these two disaster scenarios there was a whole world of possibilities. Oh yes, somehow my mental blind spot obscured all that! She even pointed out that sharing a list of the poses I fear the most was a pretty bold action and — just maybe — my teacher might begin by recognising that. Of course he might. That’s what I’d do as a teacher. It’s what my teacher taught me, after all: start from where you are.
So although my heart is still beating a touch faster in nervous anticipation, my friend’s support is helping me come back to the start of my endeavour to change: to open my heart to the possibilities, allow myself to be vulnerable, be open to learn, be patient with myself, accept the help of others. So I’ll meet with my teacher tomorrow and we’ll practise some yoga together. He’ll help me see more clearly and refine some of my physical actions. I’ll practise some more, we’ll meet again. Eat, sleep, repeat. Maybe that’s not so hard after all… Don’t they also say that change is simply inevitable.