Over the last couple of weeks, I have not been a shining example of self-awareness or self-acceptance. There has been a lot of avoidance-of-self, actually. If it sounded like I knew something about this topic when I wrote the last post, I need to let you in on something. My personal work around self-acceptance is just beginning and I’m sensing this is another one of those life-long practices… “a marathon and not a sprint” as my friend says.
If you are reading this blog, you probably know I am teaching yoga. I’m two weeks into my Saturday morning yoga classes and attendance is… well, it’s low. I need to get the word out. I decided that I need to talk about it with some strangers and maybe put flyers on some doors in the neighborhood. But have I done that? Nope. I have been afraid. Specifically, I’m afraid that someone might come out of their house and say how dumb this yoga plan is and that no one will ever come and why would they take yoga with me anyway.
I do realize that my nice neighbors wouldn’t actually say this to me. The majority won’t care at all but there are probably a few that will be so happy to be able to walk to yoga on Saturday mornings that they will be glad I came by. So where does this mean voice come from? It comes from my own head. It is what this insecure part of me says to myself and about myself and it makes me so afraid to do hard things.
When I start to feel this kind of fear, two behaviors kick in: I do a host of things that successfully distract me from my tasks and I mope. Once I start moping, I have a whole moping-routine. I mope a little about current topics and then I begin to indulge in thinking about those topics that remind me of when I moped in the past. This intensifies the moping. Moping makes it almost impossible to accomplish anything courageous because I think, “How can I possibly (fill in the blank) when I’m feeling like this?” So then I don’t do it. It gets me off the hook, in a way. Unfortunately, it is in a way that leaves me feeling un-brave and a little stuck and a little more mopey.
Moping is very hard to override without help. Luckily, when I was working on not making my yoga flyer yesterday, my friend, Rebecca, called. I love Rebecca. She is a great yoga teacher, she is grounded, she is funny and she is living her yoga in a way that inspires me. When she asked about a spontaneous morning visit, I said, heck-yeah! (A mid-morning visit could be seen as tactical avoidance, but it so happens that a visit from a friend is a great antidote to the moping.) She came over, we drank ice water and chatted about life and yoga and I talked about my fear and my moping problem with her. Just saying it out loud helped me to quiet the mean voice. Yesterday afternoon, I made my flyers.
Today, with 26 turquoise cards in my pocket and a sweet visor on my head, I cruised the neighborhood and tucked flyers under doormats. I was so nervous and uncomfortable when I walked up to the first house, but I breathed deeply, acknowledged the fear and pushed through. With each house, it got a little easier and when I was down to my very last card, I met a lovely neighbor who said she had been thinking about taking yoga, thanked me for the info and said she would help spread the word.
There are several of Patanjali’s sutras that are relevant to this negative self-talk and fear. The following two jumped out at me. I’m reminded that this fear and anxiety is a part of life and I’m going to have to continue to work on it. I can look forward to a long life of developing self-awareness. I can practice vigilance, especially when I don’t think I need to.
Insecurity is the inborn feeling of anxiety for what is to come. It it affects both the ignorant and the wise.
This syndrome may have a reasonable base in past experiences. It may be completely irrational. It does not disappear even when we know that death is imminent. It is, perhaps, the most difficult obstacle to overcome.
When the obstacles do not seem to be present, it is important to be vigilant.
A temporary state of clarity should not be confused with a permanent state. To assume then that everything will be free from now on can be fraught with danger. It is now even more important to be careful. The fall from clarity to confusion is more disturbing than a state with no clarity at all.
Patanjali’s Sutras as translated and interpreted by T.K.V Desikachar in “Heart of Yoga”
Patanjali’s sutras are so relevant to human experience. Mr. Desikachar interprets them in a way that reminds me that my feelings and fears are part of being human. Yoga offers a practical, time-tested path for guiding us through difficulties and obstacles.