My adventures in yoga teaching has officially begun! I am horrified and thrilled. Horrified, that, I, anxious and awkward, dare to invite people to move meditatively. Thrilled, that I get to share my efforts to calm my frenetic mind and heart with others.
I suppose it is the same combination of joy and fear I felt when holding my baby girls, getting married, writing my dissertation, teaching my first philosophy class or eating something unknown. I am mindful of the novelty, the moment of joy and fear and the awareness of a new path. I don’t know where it will take me and for how long but it feels good to look ahead.
Despite my fears, forgetting a pose in a sequence, wrong breath cues, limited alignment direction and the infinite little things that I could’ve done better, it was a wonderful experience. I know this because I want to do better. As soon as I got home, I found myself looking through music, researching sequences, considering different themes and advise on alignment cues. I found myself thumbing through my yoga teacher training notebooks and other books for direction.
I assume that anything or anybody that makes me want to be better is, despite fear, good for me. My kids make me want to be a better mom, my beloved makes me want to be a better partner, my philosophy students make me want to be a better teacher, my blog readers make me want to be a better blogger and so now my fellow yogis make me want to be a better yogi. Sharing, amplifies both good and bad, like cooking for others. It is a risk.
Yes, it was a good morning. A good beginning. I am so thankful for the graciousness of my sunrise vinyasa yogis. They have certainly helped me connect to my gratitude.
I was looking online for an appropriate quote that summarizes the crazy complexity of “first” experiences. Didn’t find one yet. I did find two about fear on goodreads that spoke to me. The first, short and sweet, is attributed to artist Salvador Dali.
“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”
There is something comforting in accepting imperfection as evidence of continuous growth and striving, instead of failure and inadequacy.
The second quote is much longer from Herman Hesse about his admiration of trees.
“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.
Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.
When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.
A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.
So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”