Sprouts from the ever present stillness
That blooms in our heart.
I’m quoting one of my yoga teachers today, the wonderful Anat Geiger, who shared a beautiful talk about compassion and acceptance.
“We spend so much energy worrying.
Worrying that we are not good enough, that our lives are not good enough, that our bodies are not good enough… That life is somehow going to hurt us.
There’s this constant static in the back of our mind, of worry. And even though that is a completely natural human experience, in yoga we are trying to move a little deeper than the surface, and see if we can practice the opposite of worry; which is being completely content, with everything being exactly as it is right now.
For one breath.
And if one breath goes, then see if you can take a second breath in this contentment space.
This last little bit (of the practice) is about complete surrender and acceptance. And I find that sometimes when we say acceptance, it sounds almost as if we give up and have to settle for less.
This is a Western way of thinking of acceptance. The true meaning of the word is embracing. Understanding that our desires and what we want are not necessarily better than what is. A true warrior can actually be free like this: to enjoy what is present, what is given.”
Thanks to yoga and the talented people who teach me, I found that all of these things can come so easily during practice.
It makes me believe that one day, they might also come this easily during life.
References: you can watch the class “We are warriors of compassion,” to which the above text refers, on Ekhart Yoga (but you’ll need a subscription). This class plays with warrior poses and is thought by – as mentioned – Anat Geiger. Her website is here.
I wanted to share this documentary with you because when I first saw it 5 years ago, it matched completely with how I was feeling.
Actually, I felt even worse. At least the people in the video were successful and working on their dreams. What was I doing? I hadn’t even started to dare what I dreamed of.
I realised that, if I wasn’t going to listen to my heart and start focussing on what I considered important myself, I’d get horribly depressed. Yet at the same time I fell pray to a ton of insecurities; a scorching need for attention and perfection. Frankly, I imagined myself ending up like the people in the video. And I panicked.
I decided something needed to change.
I think this is an incredibly important documentary.
Click this link for the full version in Dutch. There used to be a full subtitled version out there online, but I fail to find it.
This is directed by Sarah Mathilde Domogala.
It’s all aum and ujjayi breath until
you can’t possibly
get into that easy looking pose you hoped to do so swiftly.
Yep. That’s me in my least professional moments of yoga.
Despite all the inner peace aspirations and focus and aums and ujjayi breathing… Sometimes I just can’t help but smile at myself for loosing all grounding when said moment comes.
In my case, I’ve been doing yoga since three years, practising 6 hours a week for the last couple of months now, and I’ve seen mayor improvements. Like many people, I started taking classes for physical reasons and never imagined that the mind would benefit even more than the body. I have learned and changed so much from embracing yoga, that I simply can’t imagine my life or spirit to go without it. And yet there is this one pose that always leaves me feeling unable and discouraged, because it’s supposed to be so simple and looks so easy: Virasana or Hero pose.
I’m aware of a fracture in my hips and know that this is the reason why my legs probably won’t ever to turn that way, but accepting this boundary as something permanent, non improvable, hurts my pride and it will surely take many many more hours of yoga to get over that.
So today, while I sat on my mat in frustration, I thought of the above quote.
What I want to share in this post, apart from a touch of humour, is that it’s fine to have flaws. That it’s fine to be imperfect no matter how hard you work on perfection. And that what’s easy for one person, can be extremely difficult for another. So don’t judge. Don’t judge others, don’t judge yourself. Breath in, find the ujjayi, surrender the mind to the heart and namaste.
Also let me take this moment to share one of my favourite versions of mantra songs with you.
I hope you’ll like it and, as always, share your thoughts!
Today I learned that my co-workers’ children have a few “bad” outfits, to play outside.
When I was a kid, all my clothes were to play outside. I had a few “good” ones for the occasional parties.
Because, you know, I was a kid.
Today, my superior shared an article about our “result driven society and demanding culture.” It explained that people these days are exhausted, because of a constant pressure to be perfect. I want to share my thoughts with you, because this text upset me. I got mad, not because of what it taught, but because of what it didn’t say.
The authors big example throughout the article, was that she’d let a subordinate leave the office because his son had fallen down the stairs and needed medical care. That was the moment, she proudly wrote, she stood up for a more empathic leadership.
Obviously a worker should be able to leave home early when his child is sick! What the…?
However, between the lines of the article I read that: the employee was allowed to be “imperfect” at his job, because it made him a more “perfect” parent.
And sadly it’s true:
Any other: your talents, your house, your family, but NOT your soul. Even in our so preciously hyped “me-times,” we’re supposed to do something fashionable or productive these days. You’d better be good at it, too. And preferably, post something on Facebook when you’re finished.
Recently, one of my good friends lost her father. Needless to say, his death hit her hard. It hit her harder than most people are able to see. They’re not allowed to. You should know, my friend is the proud type. Reputation matters to her, and so do social expectations. She feels like she’s expected to keep strong. To show up at work and apologize for her (far too) brief absence. To do the same amounts of work at the same pace and perfection as before. To tell people she’s alright and avoid emotionality. To “not give up.” To “not give up on perfection.”
But what I see, is someone who is crumbling inside. Someone who doesn’t allow her own emotions even when she is all alone. Someone who keeps herself busy every second of the day (and night) to avoid thinking. To avoid feeling. To avoid a single moment of “weakness.” Someone who loses a dramatic amount of weight due to stress and sadness, but gets complimented on her figure daily. Someone who’ll always tell you she’s “doing alright,” and therefore gets praise. “You’re so strong,” people say, “I admire how you deal with things. You’re doing such a great job.” I, however, see someone who is scared to drop that fake image of “perfection,” afraid of what will happen when she does. And then I sit there, hearing people praising and complimenting her: but they make me want to cry. And shout. And fight the idiot bastards that shape such reality. Punch them in the face. I want to do all that, at once. And probably binge-eat something while at it.
Let me tell you straight: I am what they call a “weak” person. I have a little flame inside, like every one of us. A fire that sometimes burns so brightly it can light a whole building, but sometimes is no more than suffocating smoke and ashes. Unlike many people, apparently, this fire doesn’t fuel itself. I need to pay attention to it, constantly, to get the most out of it. I guess many people know how to do this mindlessly, living the life their fire desires. But with mine, it’s different. And I don’t have the desire to keep up appearances. I don’t have the energy, either. While growing older, I’ve learned to cherish my flame and every day I keep discovering more about it. I keep finding new ways to stoke it higher. I might be a weak person, but I’m no longer ashamed of it.
Those articles that talk about “a more empathic society,” they only defend the people with an “automated flame.” They defend people who need empathy because they are going through something traumatic, who need to be with their family, who have health issues,… They tell us it’s okay to fail as long as you do something else perfectly: keeping strong, raising children, eating healthy.
And you know what?
When will anyone, for once, defend people like me? People who try to just work on themselves, who try to live! Weren’t we born to do just that, after all?
But no one will, really, if that “working and living” doesn’t involve a sparkling career, lots of money or a best-selling book on mindfulness.
I live alone. I don’t have kids, pets, nor a partner to leave my job early for. But I travel. I work out a little. I draw and write and sketch, I dance around the room. I decorate cakes for myself, and take my inner child out to go swinging in the playground. I keep my fire burning.