The more I practice and the more I reflect, the more I find myself taking my yoga off the mat This manifests in the form of a larger and larger ‘space between’ action and my reaction. And as much as I’m recognizing shifts (albeit often teensy weensy ones) in my ability to observe my mind and my emotions, I certainly have yet to ‘master’ inner equanimity.
Relationships are one of the most interesting (and challenging) things that take our yoga off the mat. Take my relationship with my fiance for example (because what better example is there than the one that hits closest to home). I’ve realized that I am a ‘should-er’. I am great at telling him (or anyone for that matter – sorry mum) what they ‘should’ do, how they ‘should’ do it and all the other the ‘shoulds’ that come along with it. I know I know I can hear him now, a miniature Eckhart Tolle sitting on my shoulder whispering sweet nothings about my ego in my ear.
And so yesterday, something quite odd happened. My spouse didn’t do what I wanted him to do. Odd I know! He decided he didn’t want to come to the yoga book club with me and that he’d rather stay at home and have a cup of coffee instead. Hmmm. Space between. Space between. Hmmm. A nice knot of energy twisted itself to my core as I stomped my way down to the studio (after telling him that of course he could do whatever he liked but really thinking to myself ‘Doesn’t he see?! This would be sooo good for him!)
As it turns out, the only person the book club was really good for was me (though I didn’t quite grasp this yet). I showed up at book club. We were from various walks of life with an equally diverse experience with all types of yoga practice. Yup, from novice to pretzel, a group of 13 strangers sat cross-legged in a circle and spent 2 hours chatting about The Inner Tradition of Yoga. We shared our questions, personal challenges and quests to ‘live’ yoga and wound down the session with a short group meditation. Following the meditation, a really nice warm fuzzy sense of interconnectedness and belonging began to well up in me (and conveniently replaced the knot). As diverse a group as we were with everyone holding a different personal practice, a different set of values and certainly a variety of yoga philosophy, there was a strong commonality among us.
And then it happened on my blissful and mindless walk home. AHA! The newbies to yoga could gain as much as the hardcore practitioners from the book club. They showed up because, whatever their reasons maybe, they were interested in yoga philosophy and community. Everyone was on a different stage on their path and this was one of the stepping stones for them at this point on their journey. They were choosing to take what they wanted and leave what they didn’t want. Why was I persecuting my other half for choosing not to attend? Couldn’t I be celebrating where he’s at on his path and taking what he wanted? Instead of constantly pushing the ‘shoulds’ and wanting him to step outside his comfort zone, couldn’t I embrace his personal practice or that he is open to yoga at all for that matter?!
And so in that moment I made a conscious choice to view things differently. I embraced ‘could’ and the beautiful space of possibility it opened up compared to the ever-limiting ‘should’. This decision created a simultaneous softening and opening in my core. Clearly my awareness of my all-pervasive ‘judgement’ blindspots has only scratched the surface (an image of an iceberg above and below water comes to mind. As does the icky feeling of acknowledging the parts of you we dislike and like to keep hidden). All part of the journey. And the sweet cherry on top of today’s lesson on the self, was that when I walked in the door at home, my man had his mat rolled out and was practicing yoga in the living room. Thanks Universe. I’m listening.