I have a distinct memory from my childhood. I remember overhearing some adults chatting about life. They were venting about it as being ‘so hard’ or ‘so stressful’. I clearly remember thinking to myself – “I don’t know what everyone is on about?!” “Nothing’s really that big a deal.” “Grown Ups take things so seriously!” And – “it everything always works out in the end.” Nirvana achieved. I was probably in grade six at the time.
I’m not sure at what point things shifted and I became a (quote unquote) “adult” and began experiencing the challenges of Life myself. I mean even with all the tools in my belt, the meditating, the yoga, the inhales, the sigh-it-outs, the glimmers of self-realization and the glimpses of awareness – there are still blind spots that creep in. Daily. Hourly even. Periods when your brain takes you on a little stroll down Anxiety Lane chasing after the tale of ‘what if, what could, what might be worrying’.
We hear teachers speak to this when we’re on the mat. “Observe what the little voice in your head is telling you.” Or “Recognize what the story the movie screen in your mind is stuck playing over and over again.” Instead of actually digging into the teachers prompts and learn something about myself, I’ve often used these cues as a tip-off to just come back to the present moment and come back to my breath – leaving the little mind holiday my brain was following. But to actually record and notice the parallel stories your mind continuously journeys toward is another insight entirely.
Here’s what I’ve observed in the past couple years. The stories that play on the screen in my mind’s eye, whilst always different, tend to have a common thread (something we call a Sutra in Sanskrit). They all seem to have a subtle hint of inadequacy. (Sound familiar?) This (false) belief of not-enoughness leads to a conscious sense of ‘feeling like a fraud’. Like ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’ or ‘I’m not qualified’ or ‘I don’t have enough know-how or expertise’. And these false beliefs in turn generate a frantic feeling of having to do more in order to keep everyone from figuring me out.. and realizing that I actually have no idea what I’m doing and that I’m essentially just making Life all up as I go along. Striving to do more and be more and be better – often with the motivation to keep the world from seeing my innate ‘not-enoughness’. A vicious spiral: Not enough – Do more – Not enough – Be more. How effed up is that?!
Consciously I know this is all completely INSANE. And yes the powertools all work. The yoga and the meditation connect me back to the stillness and truth of my higher self. The truth that I forgot at some point between my weirdly wise sixth grader self, and the 32-year-old me who incessantly forgets her authentic truth. Why am I sharing all of this with you? To breakdown the halo effect that can be built up in the teacher student relationship. I often looked at my yoga teachers as these oh-so wise guru’s who had it all figured out. I’d put them up on a pedestal and if I could just master Tittibasana, like Keenan then maybe I to could reach enlightenment and leave all this not-enough-nonsense in the dust.
But the truth of the matter is that mastering that arm balance or being able to put your foot behind your head, (whilst great party tricks) aren’t going to reconnect you with your higher self. The greatest instructors I’ve had, have harnessed their insecurities and their stories as authentic ways to connect with their students. And us students vibe with them in such an authentic way – because lo and behold – they experience the same struggles.
Next time your yoga teacher says something in class and you swear, they must be using their enlightened voodoo magic to read your mind, know this: They only have insight because they’ve been there. And what makes them a great teacher, is having the guts to share their struggles with their students as lessons.
What’s in store for me? I’ll continue to practice. Meditate. Observe. And get to know ME. The REAL me. (And the little fake me.) Doing so is the most ‘enough’ gift I could give to the Universe. (And she never thinks I’m a fraud.)