Thursday, March 17, 2011

Heart Yoga: Willing to go to the place of benefit

In my skiing, I am not afraid of the hard work, nor am I afraid of failing, I know I can only work toward becoming and when I get to the time deadline, I will either be in a place where my feet have enough skill or I will not. I am content with this journey.

But like all of us, I have places where I struggle, and like most of us, my struggles are of wanting or wishing. Not about skiing, but about being.

Yesterday, in yoga, I had a sudden realization. I was in a heart opening posture and I had set my intention to let go of wishing things could be different for a friend, and therefore for our friendship.

I realized suddenly that I don't wish things were different for him, I have accepted in my heart this person has the struggle that he has.

What I realized that I have been wishing for is that he would consent to be my friend in practicing being wherever we, individually are, and each of us becoming from there.

Just like in yoga, you only need to go so deep into the posture to where you get benefit. If you try to put your hands on the floor before your back or hamstrings are flexible enough to do it, you are going past the point of benefit.

Yoga is not a goal based "sport." It is a series of postures, which have deeper and deeper expressions because as you practice, you need somewhere to continue to go so that you continue to gain benefit.

I am hoping that my friend can consent to be a beginner at "heart yoga" the practice of being compassionate to yourself and losing judgment, so you can face your fear of who you are and grow.

I realized, as I was in this posture, that the relationship I was "wishing" for (the definition of suffering being wishing that something was other than it is) is one where my friend accepts that he is where he is, and accepts without shame that I know and accept where he is, and that he spend his energy and life force letting go of judgement and practicing becoming from wherever he is.

I can not wish that someone else was willing to practice, because wishing is suffering. This helps neither of us. And its really unfair suffering: it is the suffering of imposition of want on another: I am wishing you could be this way rather than the way you are.

This is NOT an example of loving compassionate acceptance of the present. This is denial of the real, therefore fantasy, therefore suffering, which can warp the path you walk.

I can only practice my own path, with compassion for those around me. This is my practice.

It is difficult to wish for someone that they were unafraid to be where they are, even if that place feels shameful, difficult, full of judgment and sorrow, but to see the mirror of themselves, walk straight towards it, and practice becoming. Because I know from my own journey that this small bravery leads to freedom and space to grow.

And I know that I can not impose this understanding on someone else, pressing it on them. My job, I have learned, finally, is not to rescue or to save, but just to give that which I have to give without depleting myself. This means that even if I know that this friend, whom I love so deeply, would ease his suffering by being willing to practice, it is not my job to press it on to him and force it into him. That would be the practice of me wanting him to want what I want.

This is not a gift of love. A gift, a real gift, is something that you give freely, expecting nothing in return. Love should also be given this way. If I am giving love hoping that in return, he will be willing to practice, I am not giving freely.

This was suddenly both heart-breaking sad, and freeing to me, and I suddenly and violently cried so abruptly that my eyeballs ached and felt like they were going to come out of my head. I was so surprised by this! In the middle of class! Of a class full of people! But this happens in yoga. And in massage. And in life.

And here I had an opportunity to learn a lesson. Pain and fear so often point to the place where I need to grow and focus.

I snuck out of class and sat in the hallway and let this realization bloom and roll over me, and then knew my job was to accept that I now had this understanding and stay with it. There was no going back to wishing.

Once I was out there, I tried to look at what I had learned so that the lesson wouldn't leak away, and it was difficult not just to sit there and soak in it, feeling sorry for myself and my heart, rather than seeing it, learning it, holding it, growing from it, benefiting from it, letting it help me become and returning to now, class, life, flow...

I peeled myself off the bench and went back to my place and back into practice and found balance inside while holding this fear/freedom in the now and let go of wondering what it might mean in the future.
"We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same."-Carlos Castena


judyanne said...

Kate, You are such a tender heart, yet stong, sending goodness and support your way. Cherish your goals make them happen, quiet and focus the mind. A yogini in life is all I practice to be, the rest happens, sometime falling nicely into place, sometimes not. Yoga keeps me grounded, supports the heart, guides me though it all. Nameste, Kate

Liat said...

I love the quote you put up at the end! Thank you! I can tell you have been working hard on this, or you would not have been able to sit with this realization and go back to your life. Wow!