I am still learning.
I have a distinct memory from when I was about seven years old of feeling very clued up about the world. I thought I had it all sussed out. Young children are very egocentric. As a child, you believe the world revolves around you and your world is pretty tiny. Then a few years later I had a strong realization, “I can’t believe it, I don’t have a clue.” I had caught a glimpse of the magnitude of life.
Years later, I still have these realizations and I am utterly thankful for them. Though they can be painful and inconvenient, if we approach them openly they teach and enrich us, allowing us to see more clearly.
As Mark Twain so humorously put it,
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
Yoga practice is just that, practice. And when done correctly it does not stop on your mat, but filters throughout your whole life, your whole being. Your growing awareness starts to filter into how you interact with others, your children, animals, the planet, your partner and yourself. Once you are awake you have to live a mindful life (whether you always like it or not).
My teacher recently told a story of his encounter with a monk who said to him,
“You have to wake up. Not every week, not every day, not every hour or minute, but second by second”
So many students ask me “Have you felt that tightness? Did you used to feel like this?” The truth is, none of us were born obstacle free. The only way to unblock, is through continual practice. Only when we accept where we truly are, can we invite change.
My favorite definition of a guru is “someone who shows you the dark so that you can see the light.” Our dark side or shadow side holds the key to freedom and only through practice and growing awareness can we change and uncover the world of possibilities we have in each moment.
It’s no accident that Ahimsa is the first of the yamas. When you see your shadow its not always that pretty, so be nice to yourself. Only through non-harm and acceptance of your self can we embrace change. And in turn accept and embrace others. So love your blockages/obstacles, the reality is they are a gift—like a map to lead you forwards. A true teacher must have experienced this in order to teach.
I am still learning. I always will be.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta