Ana Forrest-Day 8

Ana Forrest-Day 8

Dear Lynda Beth,

Today I got pissed. Hot molten anger which rose up through my legs and belly and made me want to wheel walk like a spider over to the person who provoked it and kick her in the face. Hard. I wanted to kick her not only for me but for my whole group. Im such a Mama that way.

I was part of a group of ten teachers and we designed a class and then group taught it. This means each one of us taught a section. We didn’t know ahead of time which part. It all happened fast.

The fast part plays with your head.

Another group of ten teachers observed the hour and half yoga class. They took notes and once our teaching was over, they gave us feedback. Let me add- they gave us feedback in front of Ana and her Guardians who were observing their feedback as much as they were observing our teaching.

I taught Warrior Two with bird wing- a strange pose where the benefits for the body are not immediately evident, where delight and let go does not come easy. It is a pose that requires patience and being willing to follow the directions.

“Place your elbows on your ribs.” I inhaled and said this on exhale. Like I have been trained to do.  I looked at the students to see if my cue was followed. Yes for some but not for all.

“Put your elbow on your ribs,” I said again, this time with more authority. My eyes combed the room and stopped gently on the ones who still needed to bring their elbows in more. Its not an easy move for some bodies. Tired bodies.

One additional student responded to my second cue.

 I’m good with that. I coach myself. Sweat dripped off my hair and onto the side of my cheek.

I’m a combination of knowing what I am doing, but still not sure I’m enough, I am wanting, aching, trusting, doubting, and breathing all rolled up into one. I forget about the group of yogis lined up against the wall watching me. I hear some faint scribbling on paper but it is more dreamlike that real.

Maybe this is leaving time and space and my body, maybe this is being present and in a place of grace and prayer. Sometimes teaching yoga is like that. Whose to say?

When the teaching was over and it was my turn to receive feedback, I faced the ten yogis whose backs were up against the wall, holding open notebooks in their laps. The procedure is I stand up in front of them and say my name. They call out their observations of my teaching. One person at a time and in no particular order.

I get some helpful feedback.

You could be more in your body, in your legs, said one.

You jut your chin out when you teach, said another.

OK Im cool with these. Probably true.

But then this:

You sound pissed off when you teach.

You could be more compelling.

Yes I agree said someone else.

You could be more compelling.

Bam!

I am triggered. 

Anger. Up from my toes into my cheeks making them shine. A hot red face burning.

How dare someone say I am not compelling? That I sound pissed?

The day is done and I get in my car. Mad, angry, spent, depleted.

I needed the hour ride home to recover.

It is early morning as I write this. Its not yet light and in twenty minutes I will need to get ready to make the hour long drive for the last day of this training.

We will begin the last morning as we have begun each of the nine days, with ceremony, music, meditation and dance. Morning ceremony is beautiful. soft, quiet, loud and healing. A landing space.

Jose starts each ceremony reminding us that we are on borrowed land. The land always has and always will belong to the people who first lived here. The Native Americans.

These words guide me and remind me that my spirit, my sense of worth and value belong first to me.

I don’t have to give it away to the opinions of others. I don’t have to be perfect or compelling all the time.

I just need to be me.

And I know who I am.

I have always known.

In the end, let me do love.

Plus, I can’t see the haters, when I’ve got the love glasses on.

Now I think I should thank the sister yogi who said I sounded pissed when I teach.

The one I wanted to kick.

Forgive me as I was triggered.

Never waste a good trigger.

Turn shit into fertilizer.

Because in the end, what else is there to offer but your love.

Love,

Anne

 

On Enlightenment

enlightenmentOne of my yoga teachers told us while he sat in lotus posture, bare white legs twined up like ivy and slender fingers pointing to the sky, that we would never really want to obtain enlightenment. It’s not for the householder, the everyday yogi – which of course I am. Mother, Daughter, Lover, Sister, Friend. Writer. It means you must give up all your attachments.

“Enlightenment is about giving up all your stuff,” he says. He doesn’t just mean my cool lace up leather boots. He means give up my stories about who I am and dissolve the unseen forces which propel the meaning which is my life. Creativity, shame, ambition, passion, love, anger, sadness. Give up fighting for causes.

“True enlightenment,” he says, “You would never really want that.” It’s as if he knows things. My lumbar spine is aching from the long hours of sitting in this advanced yoga teacher training workshop. I refuse to shift my seat to bring relief from the aching. I don’t want him to see me struggle. To see my imperfections.

I’m attached to many things

Especially being good.

******

I’m attached to the sound of the ocean. Its wild language of abandon soothes me even when I am bitter. I’m attached to my partner although I blame him for broken feelings and household messes. I can’t live without a glass of white wine or the warmth of my dog’s head on my lap. I stop breathing when I think my children are not safe. I think guns should be banned in this world and know there is such a thing as evil. I would lie to your face to get what I want in the moment, like yoga pants with bright colors and soft boiled eggs. I am scared of dying.

I am attached. I have a body. I’m attached. I want it all. The good with the bad.

And so I suffer.

*****

We carry this mistaken belief that enlightenment means we do not suffer. But it is possible to suffer with a loving heart. The two are not mutually exclusive. Enlightenment is about growing in compassion and compassion means, “suffering with.” Enlightenment has something to do with not running from our own pain or the pain of others. When we don’t turn away from pain, we open our hearts and are more able to connect to the best part of ourselves and others because every human being knows pain.

I’m not sure what enlightenment is, but I’m sure it has something to do with turning fear, sorrow, and pain into love.

Maybe true enlightenment is possible.

We want that.