Between social media, teaching, writing books and selling houses, I get a lot of questions.
Important, life-changing questions like, “Where do you shop?” and “Who does your hair?” I shop mostly in my closet (good buys) and my middle daughter, Kelly, does my hair (p.s., Kell, if you’re reading this, Mommy needs a touch up).
But mostly, between autographing babies and signing contracts, I find that yoga keeps me humble.
Just when I think I’m about to save the world with my right hand, while my left one is playing ‘bad mitten’ with the Chinese Olympic Team (I’m ambidextrous and they’re pretty short), I take a yoga class and all of my inadequacies flash before my eyes.
So the instructor smiles all spiritual and everything, but inside, I can tell she’s laughing hysterically, anticipating my pain. We’re asked to balance on an eyelash while circling our left foot around the block—I cannot do this.
First of all, it’s a big block and secondly, my eyelashes are soft. I try my best to blend in and fake whatever move I can, wishing to high heaven I didn’t drink that whole bottle of Pinot the night before. I usually get busted for not sucking my belly in, or for trying to hide behind the person in front of me (this can be a good tactic in the right light).
Yet, I continue to go back for more, because like I said, it keeps me humble and I am sure my eyelashes are getting stronger.
Besides, this is why they call it a practice.
At any rate, there is a fine line between a happy, fluffy ego and one that seems to have been pumped up with synthetic steroids. People who have healthy egos truly like themselves (Hey, I’d buy me lunch anytime). But people who have overly inflated egos are about as fun to be around as an IRS auditor.
More importantly, people with healthy egos are willing and ready to try things that may cause them to appear less than graceful, whether it’s ice skating, yoga or aquatic dentistry. There is no shame in failure, falling or whales with really bad breath.
Stretching outside of our comfort zone keeps us human.
In fact, there’s a saying that I didn’t make up, but since I can’t recall who said it, I’m going to go ahead and take credit for it: If you’re completely comfortable, you’re not growing. And it’s true! Doing something new and different keeps you on top of your game, and very self aware, my friend, that you are not the great and powerful Hulk. But, who cares if you’re not the next Madonna? Get on that Karaoke stage and shake your wild thing.
I had to laugh last week when I saw a book about spiritual enlightenment for dummies.
I was embarrassed for Buddha. Spiritual enlightenment is about being humble, and it doesn’t matter how you get there. I mean, seriously, can you imagine Jesus going around bragging about himself? Would his Facebook post be,“Yo Dudes, I just totally healed this Leper?” I think not.
Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with celebrating your wins or taking credit for things you’re proud of (I’m very proud of Jesus)—I’m the first to post picture of my successfully executed corn beef and cabbage on Instagram.
Yet, all of this needs to be doused with a bit of humility.
The one thing I have noticed is that when I celebrate someone else’s accomplishments—put my own aside for an antagonizing five seconds—I feel awesome; all warm and fuzzy and glowing inside, like maybe I just ate a radioactive blueberry or something, but in a good way.
Yoga keeps me humble because it reminds me that I’m still a beginner. I have much to learn. I can appreciate others and keep my own ego in check by stretching my boundaries (and my hamstrings) and recognizing that humility is the key to what those smart Zen folk call, Beginner’s Mind.
Maybe what we should try to remember is that each of us excels at some things and we are beginners at others.
Humility is like a muscle that needs to be exercised (just don’t let my yoga instructor get a hold of it). Something to practice between break-dancing and cat videos; something that gets us in that perfect groove between mastery and learner.
And maybe do a downward dog or two in between.
Tamara Dorris is a professor, Realtor, and author of several books. Her latest is a yoga-humor book.
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Ed. T. Lemieux