Clairvoyant, I’m not

I have many excellent qualities, but clairvoyance isn’t one of them.  But no matter how many times I tell myself I don’t know the future, well, I think I know what is going to happen.  For many years, I’ve told myself, prepare for the worst, so I can be pleasantly surprised.  This, I’ve realized, is just one more way for me to justify my tendency toward catastrophic thinking.

Being a worst case scenario thinker isn’t all bad.  One benefit is that I tend to adjust to difficult situations quickly.  I don’t lose my head when something legitimately awful takes place.

What’s the flip side of that though?  Perhaps a tendency to give up too easily.  Because I don’t stretch myself as hard as I could, maybe I achieve success too readily, like a hurdle jumper hopping over uncooked spaghetti, conveniently distanced 2 feet apart.

When something is hard, if something isn’t working out, are you too quick to drop the thing you are working on?  Acceptance is good, but if you are flinging yourself into the lap of failure, calling it “being realistic”, are you doing the best thing there, or are you doing yourself a disservice?

I often fall back on the “realism”, on the worst-case scenario, into the status of someone who gracefully settles into failure.  And, I do it all because the first thing to pop into my head is where I think something is going.  Oh well, it must not be meant to be.  Sometimes that’s true, and you don’t want throw energy at everything.  You only have a finite supply of energy and time.  But, perhaps, acknowledge and accept that you don’t know the future.  A bad day is just a bad day.  One day, everything is crap.  The next day, the world has opened up.  A phone call, a good cup of tea, a hot shower, a walk, even just a good night’s rest could be all that is standing between you and progress.  Sometimes, it’s just your mind.

I am reading Perfectly Imperfect by Baron Baptiste, and I love it.  He says:

Every student has his or her no pose…But you actually don’t know for sure that you can’t do that pose.  What you’ve come up against isn’t necessarily a physical limitation.  Resistance can be very deceiving behind the many masks it wears.  Maybe you haven’t been able to do that pose in the past, but what about today?  The yogis say you can never step into the same river twice, because the current is always shifting and changing.  You’ve never stepped into this exact river before today…

How many of us know people who act as if their assessments, personal opinions, and judgments are truth and fact?  This is a common phenomenon.  It is no surprise that people who view life as if their subjective assessments are The Truth have difficulty forming an empowering relationship with the practice and with life.  There’s no room for new possibility or perception if you are locked within your perception, holding it as the cold, objective, unmovable truth.

Today, there was something that I perceived as hard in a yoga class, and I didn’t want to even try.  I could see that a bunch of people around me didn’t want to try either.  But then I remembered this good reading I’ve been doing, and I decided to think, YES.  I will try.  And I did it.  And it was awesome.

Who knows what’s next?  I don’t know, and you don’t know.  We never step into the same river twice.  Even if the water was the same, we wouldn’t be.

Genetic Privilege–it’s for you, too

When I took the fabulously insightful Yoga for All training with Dianne Bondy and Amber Karnes, there was this great concept of genetic privilege that just blew my socks off.  In the first module, they talk about how some people have a natural ease with certain postures, and some don’t.  Dianne framed it as “genetic privilege”, which I just found so interesting, particularly when she said that everyone has it.  When I framed it in terms of myself, it had an interesting effect on me.  One, it helped me to focus on the positive, the idea that some things really do just come naturally to me.  Two, it helped me to understand that I can’t have a natural affinity for everything.  Some things are easy, some are hard.  Three, it helped me to feel a little less self-congratulatory on things that do come easily to me.  I got lucky.  Nothing to get to puffed up about there.  For some reason, I find this very freeing.

For me, I am pretty good at opening my side body.  I enjoy it, I have a nice, long torso that makes it come a little more easily.  However, I can’t really clasp my arms up behind my back and lift them.  Namaste in the back?  Ha!  Dream on!  But, by being able to be at ease with the idea that some things I do come easily, it makes me more able to accept that some really don’t.  No longer do I berate my poor, tight shoulder carriage, because heck!  I can do triangle!  The silver lining makes the grey part a little brighter.

So, next time you are on the mat, notice your strengths and weaknesses without getting too attached.  Walk that line of equanimity, thinking in a factual way, without all the emotional baggage and pay attention to what feels good, what feels instinctive.  Be okay with practices that aren’t so simple to you.  You can learn from both, if you don’t get caught up in a miserable cycle of accomplishment and failure.  Recognizing privilege doesn’t eliminate the ability to strive and improve, but it may shift your perspective.