The basement of a bar on Taco Tuesday isn’t generally where I would take my sixty-something year old, ex-alcoholic yoga student for a deep conversation.
But, there we were.
Three chicken tacos each, please.
I consider him something of a Buddha. His journey of recovery lends him a seemingly impossible sparkle, and around town everyone greets him with familiarity. He goes to yoga every day. He loves meditation. He loves talking about meditation. And he bobbles his head in this funny way when he does.
As we yelled over the college students and general bar ruckus, I shared a bit more of my story. How I ended up in Montana, then Costa Rica, and now, Maine. And he responded something strange:
Ah, he said with a bobble. Somehow, now you’re more human.
What was I before? I wondered.
It happens a lot with my yoga students. They see this put-together Zen being who can do deep backbends and put her hips on the floor in pigeon, and has a lovely collection of yoga leggings in which to do so. She’s always welcoming and smiling.
But they forget. It’s my job to get on my mat every week and share from my heart, even when it feels like it is shattered in ten thousand pieces and it is all I can do to put on a clean shirt and keep from crying. I stand on that mat as a vessel for the teachings… not because they come from my own perfection, but because I can put aside my own deeply human fears and sadness and anxiety and imperfections to carry these sacred words into the world.
They are spoken in my voice, with my lips, and through my heart… but they aren’t a product of some sort of perfect “Finished Product Zen Goddess”. The truest and most powerful teachings come from the willingness to be vulnerable to what is, and those moments on the mat, at the front of a sweating group of yogis, are offering me spirit medicine just as much as my students.
“My” students… we are all students.
You’re damn right that I am too.
“Duh, I knew that,” you say. But did you? Really?
We project. Project on our yoga teachers, our favorite authors, the wise ones in our lives, our business mentors, our friends: they’ve got it figured out, and I don’t.
“A work in progress. That I am,” texted a friend the other day. As if it were some radical revelation.
Oh honey, aren’t we all.
Did you ever think about how expecting yourself to be anything other than a Work In Progress, always and forever, is…
- Cocky. Oh, so YOU are going to be the one to reach angelic perfection? Whoa!
- Setting yourself up for a life of self-criticism, because there will always be improvements.
- Ignoring the potency of doing the work. Since there’s no end goal here… it’s ALL about the process.
Hmm? No? Well maybe it’s time you thought about it. A little more. Sinking in?
Over time you might notice that you’re… happier with what is. That you have more compassion for yourself, and therefore others. That you’ve stopped creating false hierarchies with yoga teachers perched precariously at the top.
Note that I didn’t say, “Sink into apathy because why even try?” You are here to grow, to stretch your comfort zones, to try, to fall, to fly, to love, to break, and to love again. Its humanity. This is our earth walk.. our collective journey through this wild thing called Life.
But if you loosen the reins of expectation… You can be a whole lot more comfortable with the unpredictable, uncertain, wishy washy chaotic ways of this existence.
And dear god, I think we could all agree that sounds pretty good. Including my friend, the Buddha.