There was a miscommunication. I’m grateful we caught it in time. I chose to ’emergency’ sub a class tonight that I had asked not to cover. I had just a few minutes to think through what I might layer together into a coherent 90 minute class (yes – 90!!) while welcoming students, taking payments, and answering questions. Phew. I taught the class and felt like the night was a success (people smiled, moved in their bodies safely, etc.). I was excited to clean up and go home to a long awaited dinner, unpacking the groceries still in my car, and playing with my puppy. I felt like I had offered something, pushed my own boundaries of being prepared, and was of service to these students who otherwise would have encountered the news of no class.
After class a student I know came up to me and asked me, “Can you take some criticism?”
I still remember getting an F on a temperature quiz in third grade. I still feel the scar of embarrassment from failing my driving test and the angry finger of blame I wanted to point at the car I was driving. Criticism, failure, is not my strong-suit.
“Yes, of course,” I answered. I took a deep breath and reminded myself that someone else’s perspective is just that, one perspective. I listened to what he had to say and did my best to hear where he was coming from. And to remind myself gracefully that I am new, I have a lot to learn, I am only one person and can’t be what everyone wants out of a teacher – nor would I want to aim to. I did my best not to turn it around on him, not to give my justifications or defenses (ok, still working on that). And I think he felt heard and that our relationship as fellow yoga practitioners is stronger.
And then I went home rehearsing the conversation over and over in my head, replaying all the parts of what he didn’t like about me. So I put on some loud Taylor Swift (because I can’t think while pop music is on) and attempted to drown out the noise. It didn’t work. I sat myself down with some comfort food and made some tea and practiced letting it go. This isn’t personal. Exhale. This is more about his expectations, his mind, his practice, than it is anything about me. Exhale. And I am sure there are other people who don’t like my classes (I could guess by faces sometimes). Exhale. And I have been a jerk in class scowling at a teacher in my head. And it did me no good – I lost the chance to enjoy my class and left as a grouch. Exhale, exhale, exhale. And people have said good things to me and bad – and there will be more. None of these things mean anything about me. Big exhale.
What does matter is how I let them live inside of me. So for the next few days, I’ll practice letting this go. When the voices return in my head, I’ll take a deep breath and exhale them out. It may take days, or weeks, for it to lose the emotional pull towards reaction… but it will release. Like a knot in my muscles, with time and repeated handling, it will heal.
Enjoy the pose below and use it to take a few exhales of things that feel personal. Remind yourself that they aren’t really about you. Really, not much in our world really is about us… and there is so much freedom and peace in that. As Elsa reminds me, “Let it go…”
– one big pillow (or two normal sized)
– soft ground
Place your pillow (or stacked pillows) on the ground. Bring the side of your hip up against the pillows. Bend your knees and tuck your feet closer to your seat. Twist and bring your chest and face down on the pillow. Place your arms on either side and sink into the support of the earth and the pillow(s). Breathe deep and exhale your junk. Inhale love, compassion, and gentleness towards yourself. Spend 5-10 minutes and switch sides.