Here is a video from New Year’s Eve, 2014. I haven’t created very many videos like this of myself, outside of the clips I make for Instagram. I have never been quite sure how useful they are, if at all. They are entertaining for some but not especially informative or educational.
But this week, I had a long private session with a yoga student that helped me reconsider. This woman is maybe twice my age. She told me that she practices yoga for strength and flexibility, but it became clear during our almost three-hour meeting that the practice plays a much larger role in her life. I gave her the first information she’d ever formally received about the philosophy of yoga as she scribbled notes and Sanskrit terms. I could see her enthusiasm build as she continued to ask questions, mapping out this methodical practice in her mind and on paper.
As often happens, near the end of our discussion, we began to reveal the deeper reasons why we practice, the seeds of our mental dis-ease, the roots of attachment and aversion. We both softened the teacher-student dynamic and were just people, seeking similar things and confronting similar obstacles.
She’s been on this yoga path a lot longer than she knows.
And then she said, “Thank you so much for telling me why you practice. It makes so much more sense now”. I wasn’t sure what she meant, so I smiled and let her continue.
“You make the poses look so easy but you never seem proud. You move like…like a song. But you’ve really worked at this stuff”.
I felt so relieved. I do sometimes wonder why people feel the need to judge or to assume that there’s arrogance associated with my practice, and I also wonder what would be so wrong or bad about me being proud of my body, my strength, the lessons I’ve learned over years of discipline and mindful self-compassion.
It was a relief to know that some people can view it as art–my own messy art that sometimes makes sense to no one but me. If anything it is a humble offering. It is my interpretation or small manifestation of what I understand or do not understand about the present moment.
We all speak the same Universal Language if we make room to listen. I hear my students speak this language all the time. Not everything we do has to be useful or informative. Sometimes it can just be honest and.
We all have something beautiful to contribute to the world and I think we should share it. Maybe in a loud way, maybe in a quiet way. Whether it’s comedy, music, food, fashion, photography, woodworking, math… why do we sometimes wear shame (disguised as modesty) like a badge and throw the most unique parts of ourselves into the background where no one can see, as though the things we do with our “free time” are less important than the things we do to make money? When you are your own authentic self, not only do do help the Soul of the World, you encourage others to do the same.
From Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
So here is some of my art. It is what sustains me and what makes me realize my wholeness. I hope you are encouraged to share your uniqueness, too.