I so much prefer when I know all the answers, when I have it ‘figured out’ or at least can look the part. I like being the one with experience, age, and usually a little bit of an attitude of superiority. It fells good and safe.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of areas in my life where I do not have the answers – if there are any to be found. I really feel uncomfortable when I am faced with situations where I can’t have everything figured out, I get anxious and snarky. Surprises or changed plans trigger this panic in me – what do I say? What do I bring to the dinner party? I want people to see me as put together ‘right’ and if I can’t manage that image, I feel lost. This lurking, scheming voice in my mind wants to look better, sound better, and be better than the people around me – and ‘better’ than how I really am.
And then there is this yoga thing. The first Sutra points me to beginning the inquisition of yoga… and I’m a real beginner here. I don’t have the knowledge that so many people around me have. I don’t have the experience that many teachers my age have under their belts. I feel tempted to pretend, to reply vaguely to leave space for people thinking I’ve been doing this forever. But it feels so icky because it is totally untrue. I play the impostor and then I lose a chance to learn because I’m hiding instead of being real and just asking the question. I have some threads of this yoga web that I’m clinging to and I do need help and I do need other people. And I have trouble admitting that.
But once I do, I can imagine another narrative. Instead of only getting the surface of connection with the people around me, I can ask the deep questions that I’m afraid of – and connect over the discoveries in the reply. I can be that awesome person that wants others to share, to teach me everything they know, to soak up the humanity-experience-compassion that they have grown in their lives. I would love for someone to come up to ME and say, “I think you have so much wonderful ____ in you – could you teach me?”… so let me begin by being that to others. And oh, what I could learn and enjoy along the way! Because it seems like it would be much more fun to be honest with where I’m at (and where I’m not) and get to explore the journey of learning, one step at a time.
Yoga daily reminds me that we are called to be beginners in this awesome, expansive, humility-embracing kind of way. In a way that draws people together, opens them up, and shares the light we all have within us. And it is as hard as anything to wear the ‘beginner’ hat all the time. But I believe that it will be more rewarding over the long haul. So I will practice being a beginner, always. Maybe we can wear this hat together.
Here’s a stretch that really reminds me that I am just beginning the journey into my hamstrings…
– lots of pillows
– comfy place to sit on the floor
Sit on the ground with your legs stretched straight in front of you. Pile some pillows on your lap. Stretch your spine and reach as tall as you are able in your back. Gently fold over your legs onto the pillows. Rest your head to one side. Breathe deeply and evenly through the nose. Sink in here, supported by the pillows, for 5 minutes. Switch your head and adjust (you may get deeper into the pose) and then hold for 5 more minutes.
Think of an area of your life where you want to embrace being a beginner. Imagine how free it will feel to wear that hat instead of the “all together” hat. Trust that where you are at on your path is enough.