Friday, October 17, 2008

Support for Change

Many yoga practitioners say that when they come to a class they work harder than when they practice at home. Somehow it can be harder to maintain motivation to do a full practice at home. Maybe we come home tired, or there are too many distractions.

The support of having a teacher and fellow students working really gets me going. Even listening to energizing music can help. Having support makes making change more natural. Support helps create space for change.

When a person starts on the path of yoga, whether they know it or not they are on a path of change. This could be because change is the truth of experience. It also could be because when a person is practicing yoga it’s harder to hide from the truth. The body feels different. I became aware of myself in a different way when I committed to my yoga practice.

I learned to become myself in a different way when I got into yoga. Before yoga my attention was on pleasing others. Then, my attention shifted to getting to know myself. And now I want to learn how I can connect more deeply with others, keeping my sense of myself intact.

This is a place where I must give myself support. Nobody else can really know what is best for me, except me. Only I know. Yet, there have been times in my life when I have wanted to give that away. It was much easier to focus on someone else. But, when I have done that it left a vacancy inside myself. And I now feel that it does myself a disservice to the extent that it’s almost criminal.

I came here with a particular take on life, and my experiences have further guided me into a sense of myself that I have to honor. If I don’t it’s a waste of myself. It’s my birthright to be me, even though at times it has been hard for me to accept the responsibility.

I think the level of self-rejection I used to have is unique, yet a part of me doubts this thought. In the past, the most important thing was pleasing other people (as I mentioned earlier). Seeing the smiling look of approval on the face of another was like hitting the emotional jackpot. Or, hearing the words, “good, Brooks” sent my spirit soaring. I’m more suspicious of these patterned reactions, now.

The impersonal format of a group yoga class gave me the support I needed to have quality time with myself. I started to wake up. During the period of time I’m thinking about, I was practicing Ashtanga yoga. Somehow the support of those teachers, and the repetition of the classes, as well as the quietness of the Mysore-style practice provided a fertile ground for transformation within myself.

I don’t know how else I might have found myself in the chaos of this world.

A friend made an observation when I remembered a detail of what I heard him say last week. He had forgotten that he had mentioned it to me, so when I said it he was a little freaked out, like I was psychic or something. I shared that I had only remembered what he said, and that I tend to remember what people say. He responded by saying that it must mean less space for me with other people’s thoughts bouncing around in my head.

And eureka! Maybe that’s why many people don’t really listen or remember what others say, because they feel that they’ll loose that space for themselves.

I think (not being a brain scientist) that we have infinite capacity to hear others. The feeling of tight brain space is an illusion that can be remedied by a regular practice of letting go, like yoga. Listening is a wonderful and priceless gift we can give another being.

To be able to support another by listening can help that person locate their self. Listening in this way provides space in the chaos of life, space to flourish, room to change.


Anonymous said...

I not only find that I work harder in class than at home, but that it's incredibly difficult for me to give any significant amount of time to my home practice, while I have no problem giving, including transportation there and back, over two hours to a yoga class three days a week. This is particularly strange since, throughout my schooling, I always learned much better on my own than in a classroom (which is why I found the independence of graduate school so much easier than the relentless structure of grammar school). Then, opening and listening may be central to the difference, as yoga is the means by which I crack the armor that's been built up in so many years of solitary pursuits, so perhaps it's very much a matter of getting to know myself in relation to others in the room. Then, maybe that's just all the Krishnamurti I've been reading....

Flo said...

I was going through some of your older posts. This one speaks to me on many levels. Maybe because I am some how entering in this phase of my practice. I've been practicing yoga on and off for nearly 3 years. Recently I've made the commitment to myself, through my practice. I am learning more of myself and what I need. It is both a beautiful place and scary place. I have to travel to my ashtanga class once a week and practice at home most days. I recently started doing Mysore on Monday nights with my teacher. That space for me is so special.