Does every one know what it feels like to want approval from outside our selves? To feel like we are only as good as others have affirmed to us? Do we all so easily forget any achieved sense of accomplishment when doubted by an other? If you do not resonate with this, please inspire all those you meet to find that same inner strength you have. Surely you must have evolved through such a stage and can empathize with me here.
I have been so guilty of this; Seeker of approval, desperate for validation. It is endless and it is tiresome. Luckily, I have begun to find my way. The teacher and teachings suited so beautifully to set me forth have come upon my path. By working to transform my self through the science of Yoga, I am coming to glimpse that eternal being within. I can now say confidently that I am beautiful and strong and worthy and that all of this comes from within and is unshakable. Except sometimes I do forget this and indulge myself in the drama of the ‘not good enough’s or ‘let’s just give up now’s. Ultimately though, I have come so far in recent years and can only imagine how much further this means I am meant to advance. For now, I am in a place where I teach others. I work to pass along the real tools of Yoga that are meant to liberate us all from our limiting beliefs. These tools are meant for all who are ready to embrace them and oh boy, are they needed!
Having struggled deeply with body image for many years, I have recently offered a class designed to bring together those with similar struggles. The insecure and out of shape seekers who are desperately on the lookout for some semblance of truth.
Last week, I was shocked and humbled when my class filled with these such people. Women who surely struggled to get up the staircase to find the studio, let alone maneuver themselves on their mats. And yet, they were there. My call had brought us all together and I suppose I must have been ready to teach and learn something…though I must admit, I was not prepared to lead students who faced such limitations, mentally and physically, it is all one and the same. There was one woman who’d had a recent hip replacement and along with having shed nearly 100lbs, was the first to say that she still had a long way to go in her pursuits of health. I wanted to do right by her and to help her heal and triumph. Quietly, she did her thing and I did mine. Not long into the class, there was another women, front and center, who would randomly make claims over how hard everything was, with her being so fat. Or wondering aloud, how was she supposed to do that, with all of her fat in the way!? I am quite sensitive and this affected me. My own negative associations with the word (FAT) had me shuttering and seeking a quick retreat from her scorn. But also, what a beautiful opportunity to connect with what was important and what was true and exercise my own ability to stand firm in supporting this. Sure the physical body was real and had to be dealt with, but more so as an extension of the mind and soul, where the truth and importance really lie.
As class ended, the woman who had caused the disturbance sought out a potential companion and outlet in my friend, the one with the healing hip and heart. I heard and felt her desperately wanting to share her negativity, looking for reinforcement in stating, ‘…wasn’t that too hard for us, not what I expected, was comfortable with or felt good about it…’ I was working hard to keep focused on my center and was half disappointed and mostly hugely relieved to overhear her talking to the receptionist to say she would not be joining the rest of the classes.
All week, doubts plagued me. Maybe I couldn’t do this…I couldn’t make them all happy and the thought was dragging me down, down, down. I began to doubt my entire role as a teacher, considering that if I were only teaching Yoga to gain the validation of others, I was a hypocrite and my students would be better off without me.
Tonight, our second class, was approached with caution and honestly, having been stripped down a bit, I came with only myself and experiences to offer. I believe that my sincere gratitude in connecting and conveying the real meaning of Yoga was evident. Class began and I kept my eye and heart out for my friend who was slow but surely moving and adjusting into her body and new hip. Being how I am, I wanted to nurture her…to help her get into the poses, hand her the props and check in that she was alright. I thought she must be feeling the same as the woman who approached her last week and vented about the injustice of it. Maybe I just wanted her approval and acceptance too. I don’t know if I could have handled another person, who I deeply wanted to help, walking away from me in disappointment. But I held back, letting her find her own way…
Class ended and my friend was slow to gather her things, hanging around quietly as the others said their goodbyes. I could sense she wanted to talk and automatically feared it would be a repeat episode; These classes weren’t for her, I wasn’t doing a good job in sharing what Yoga really meant. I braced myself and then quickly realized she had a different story to tell…
First off, she wanted to explain and justify her inabilities, as we all so often do. She wanted to tell me how hard it was for her to join the class, to go out into public alone…something she rarely, if ever, will do. She wanted to share that she wasn’t even sure how she managed to convince herself to come out, into a place where people might so easily judge her and she would have to face her limitations head on. She wanted me to know that last week, once class was over, she barely made it back into her car before being overcome with a huge release of tears and pride. She was proud of herself and this was amazing.
I cannot express how deeply moved I am to know that my words, my offerings, reached some people in such a way that without ever having met me or tried Yoga, they felt drawn to join in our classes. Here I spent the last few days worried I was only teaching to please others and scrape around for approval! Tonight I saw in front of me, a woman glowing after having shed a layer of her own complex limitations, trusting and ready to move down into the limitlessness of her own True Being.
This is absolutely why I am teaching Yoga.