punch it in the face
life is an adventure in forgiveness ~unknown
Out of all the decisions I made today, the best one was to slam my laptop shut and haul my ass to noon yoga – something that was not written into my schedule because I’ve procrastinated on a few work projects wayyyyy too long. As I hurriedly slipped in and unrolled my mat at the back of the room, I heard several quiet “hey, Adi, how are yous?” and as I looked around, I noticed that I was sharing the space with seven other teachers. Immediately, I let out that breath that I’d been holding all the way up May Avenue because I knew the energy in that room was going to leave me feeling like I could leap the moon. I don’t really think that’s a saying, but I feel damn good after that class and I’m going with it anyway. We started on our backs, lights soft, and her voice even softer. I melted. Brenda is her name, and she’s strong and soft and authentic. As we’re lying there, she tells us that this week’s focus is on ahimsa, or non-violence. Non-harming. Ah, yes… I know this one well, as this is our third time to cycle back through the limbs of yoga, and it’s a fairly straightforward principle to make relatable, both on and off the mat. It’s also one of those of which we need constant reminding. It’s one of those that when off the mat, I, myself, plainly suck at.
In any case, I thought about this as I navigated my little rectangular space for the next fifty-five minutes. I really have learned not to let those “violent” voices take over if I wobble or can’t find a pose – or when I wobble or struggle with a pose, to be more accurate. And really, the word “violent” is a bit strong for what I would do to myself, but when relating it to ahimsa, the sentiment is understandable. With a little guidance from my teachers, it didn’t take long to realize that releasing the idea of having a perfect practice and letting any frustrations pass would help me stay balanced on the inside and outside, both. This is a tool that served me well today, as Brenda had us doing as many of the different types of loathsome handstand hops as she could think of.
Side note: I love being upside down, but I want to get there the way I want to get there. Yeah, I can be a bit of a four-year old about it, if I let myself. I try not to. I’m a work in progress.
Anyway, I planted my hands, locked my shoulders in and hopped. I kicked myself in the butt. I kicked my neighbor in the butt. I kicked the wall in the butt. Well, not in the butt because it is, after all, a buttless wall, but if it had one, I surely would’ve kicked it. I made myself do all the hops that I can’t do before doing the ones that I can. Sometimes I stuck, and sometimes I wobbled, but at no time did I let go of that ahimsa. So, as I’m staring down at my mat, shoulders trembling and toes fired up toward the ceiling so hard that flames may shoot out, I start to really think about applying ahimsa off the mat to myself. I’ve given the spiel to soooo many students soooo many times, but, as previously indicated, if I were to be honest with, well, anyone really, I couldn’t say that I make a personal practice of this most of the time. The succinct version of my lesson: When you wobble, fall on your head, or accidentally kick someone in the face while on your mat (all three of which I’ve done…. several times), acknowledge it, apologize if you need to, and don’t beat yourself up about it, because it happens. Maybe even laugh about it, and definitely learn from it. When you wobble, fall on your head, or accidentally kick someone in the face in life (again, all three of which I’ve done… several times), acknowledge it, apologize if necessary, and don’t beat yourself up about it, because it happens. Maybe even laugh about it, and definitely learn from it. In life and in yoga, right?
Listen, I’ve made some colossal fuck-ups in my life, and I’m not talking about just those you make as a teenager. Nope. I’ve kept up with those right up through the start of my fortieth year on this earth plane, and I expect to continue to make them until I leave it. That’s just, as it turns out, life. There is a sort of protocol to colossally fucking up, though, if you want to make it through to the other side as a slightly better version of yourself. You have to own it, apologize (sincerely) for it, learn from it, and do your damnedest not to repeat it. And then – and this is the hardest part – you have to forgive yourself for it. (I feel the need to interject myself, here, and say that this process could take two minutes or two decades. Just in case you’re like me and expect instant freedom from your own head…) Anyway, you have to show yourself the same compassion you’d show a friend for her colossal fuckup, and for the love of all holy things, you have to stop beating yourself up for it. This is the ahimsa. This is the part I struggle with, and I suspect that I’m not alone. I suspect it’s the part you struggle with, too, if you’ve made it this far into this post. So here’s what we’re going to do, okay? We’re going to think about that thing that we’re beating ourselves up for, figure out how to own it, apologize for it, learn from it, and then whenever that non-compassionate you starts to talk, punch it in the face. Just kidding… don’t do that. But really, when that non-compassionate you starts to talk, kindly and strongly tell it to shut the hell up because you’re practicing ahimsa. You’re moving on.