I’ve been thinking about this little bird since it interrupted my mysore practice this morning.
A little bird that seemed a bit frantic, thrashing against the window pane, making himself known. Growing up, I lived in the woods in a house with big windows. Birds would often fly straight into them, thinking the forest continued on, fooled by the reflection of the sky and the trees.
This bird was different though, he didn’t crash into the window thinking that the sky continued…he was hovering and scratching with his feet, slapping the pane with his wings. Over and over he attacked that window. Crazy bird.
After a few rounds of this behavior, and after dimming the lights, another yogini proposed that it might be territorial. I sat back into the next posture thinking.
What would it be like to not recognize your own reflection? What sort of sense of “self” do birds have?
I followed these trains of thought through the next pose or two, and then I began to think about her remark. Territorial. The bird was fighting against its own reflection! Thoughts tumbled through my mind, cascading as I recognized the implications of this in my own life.
How odd and distant it would be to not recognize my own reflection, strange little bird. I practiced holding this air of superiority for a few minutes more, until I realized, truth be told, I do it all the time. I don’t always see things for what they truly are (avidya), but instead through a conditioned awareness, with layers of societal and personal judgments and imprints.
Ahh, my little yogi messenger bird. Look at you showing me the futility of fighting against one’s self – of not being able to truly see one’s self. Behavior I find so odd and silly in a bird, I do myself as a matter of course sometimes.
I wondered what would happen if I stopped fighting that metaphorical reflection? What would happen if I could see in that reflection the core of “Michele” instead of the labels I have hanging around my neck?
After practice and meeting with a friend, I went for a short run. A slow run. I typically would have egged myself on, go faster, make xyz time, you need to do this or that thing. When really, today, I needed to run slowly. I was trying out a few miles without one of my ankles wrapped, and it was important to take it slow so as not to injure myself.
I ran, watch beeping a pace that I dread – so slow. “Ugh” I thought, “I’m like xyz person going so slow”. Disappointed almost to disgust. And then, a little giggle. Out loud, I giggled on the path, because I realized that I was, in a way, smashing into my own reflection – fighting with an image of myself “slow jogger” that does not reflect who I truly am.
And even if it did in that moment, I realized that I don’t have to view the label as an enemy – something to fight against. As I continued to jog, I thought of other scenarios in which I act like that little bird. The metaphor can work in a variety of ways, but it is certainly food for thought.
In any event, this is leading me again, back to ahimsa (non-violence/loving kindness); an idea that seems to bear repeating.
Edited by Hayley Samuelson.
Michele Vinbury is currently working toward her 200 hour yoga teacher certification. She is also the Program Coordinator for the Yoga on High Foundation, a fund that brings yoga to underserved and under-resourced groups in Central Ohio. Michele teaches classes for runners, and will be teaching a series of classes for volunteers at a local crisis center. Her two children keep her wildly busy and endlessly entertained with their stories, their laughter and their beautifully open hearts. In between yoga classes, you can find her outside running, kayaking or falling off her new, bright-yellow skateboard.