Thanks For Asking 1/29/18
Thanks For Asking
If I were a celebrity, I’d be on Sober House with Dr. Drew, all puffy and sun-damaged, a washed-up child film-star, lost without the limelight. This quote by a friend tonight says it all. It spoke to me: “I don’t need your approval- but my conditioning wants it. #unlearning.”
Last September I wrote a survey and 51 people filled it out, and I was grateful. A huge number I thought! Apart from the fact that I think I should have a job writing surveys (so fun!), it helped orient me and confirmed some suspicions. There were a great deal of lovely and supportive responses alongside... a common refrain/thread: to go back to how things used to be. The old days. Words like classic, traditional, basic, even “regular.” Predicability. The wish not to think.
This was one answer to the last question which was: What else can I do to improve your learning/experience? “I really appreciate the journey you are taking with your own practice and teaching. I see that you are being bold and trying to chart new integrated ways that combine all body parts, physical, emotional, spiritual, etc. I admire that. That said, I am more interested in traditional yoga. Want to go to class and feel I have exercised, strengthened, been inspired, challenged and took care of my body. I guess I miss the old days but understand why you might not.”
...to feel I have exercised, strengthened, been inspired, challenged and took care of my body. That’s a lot in one class isn’t it? I’m not imagining that? Did I used to give you that in the old days? I get it though. You want to feel like you’re making progress and getting to do the postures you learned and now know. You want to feel adept. You need to cram a lot into that ninety minutes because the rest of the time you’re chair-bound and your brain is mush and this is all the time you have, a tiny window of care and you need me to work some magic.
Learning new things, challenge...is threatening. Basic neurology confirms it. But you know what I think? It’s not a good sign, You’re exhausted. You’re stressed to the max. You’ve spent your whole body budget. Maybe hiking or massage or Tai Chi or free-dance or restorative yoga or meditation might be better? Maybe a trail walk followed by an epsom salt bath? Maybe life changes, big ones? Because learning new movements taxes your overfilled brain. I think I understand. At night after being with my kid all day I just want to eat cereal and binge-watch TV. Believe me I know maxed-out. Like you, I have a brain that won’t shut off.
Dear ones, I’m afraid I can’t give this to you anymore. Not as a teacher of a class. I can't give you postures because I don't really see the point anymore. I can't give you flow, vinyasa and predictable (unless by accident), and I can't lead mindlessly feeling bored and expected to massage the head of every single one of you during shivasana. I can give you novelty though. A space for reflection and awareness. It's not always comfortable. I can care about you deeply and see you.
It’s really good for your brain, novelty. Paying attention pays off in dividends. Your visual motor skills are critical too, but no one tells you this. In a few years visual training will be sexy. Now- it’s active mobility, functional range stuff. And handstands. I know all about it. Then again, your balance trumps it all. And balance happens mostly in the eyes and ears. Your brain is the boss of your range and your strength and...all of it. Brain stuff is the bomb.
I know a great great deal more than I knew- even a month ago. I cringe to think of what I taught in those early years, when I had the biggest classes. Going into year thirteen of teaching, I’ve estimated that I’ve taught upwards of five thousand classes. Can you imagine teaching the same content that many times? Would you even want that kind of teacher? Have you thought of that?
This moment is the perfect teacher. This is not a comfortable moment for me, friends. This moment is a great opportunity to sit with discomfort because I can’t please everyone. Or anyone? I crave feedback and external affirmation like my life depends on it. My love language (only read the title of that book but it’s enough) is verbal/words- are you surprised? I love verbal encouragement and praise like a plant loves the sun. It’s over-the-top.
My conditioning wants your approval, badly. I’m trying to lean into the point. It’s sharp.
What are you unlearning right now?
When you lean into the point, it will be sharp. It may leave a scar. And a story. And new skin will grow there.