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There are two words in the English language that freak me right out.  At the top of the heap is “Death”.  Second only to that is “failure”. Last week, I received an email that contained this statement:

I do wish you all the best in this life Tabitha. May you succeed at almost everything you try ( you have to fail sometimes to keep it real)

It shocked the pants off me.  There it was, the other “F” word!  You can speak one hundred and fifty million words to me, but if you string “you” and “fail” together in a sentence, everything else becomes background noise.  I hear nothing but – YOU FAIL.  When I read those words in the email, my mind immediately raced to, “My god, someone in this world wants me to fail!”  Underneath that thought was a mound of steamy emotions and an urge to push away.  Not wanting to drown in it all, I decided to scoop it all up, walk it over to my meditation cushion, and use the heated word FAILURE as the object of my contemplation.  This is what I found:

The answer is not that important.  It’s where the question brings you that matters. – Adyashanti

I have always had a strained relationship with this concept of failure.  Hours of my life have been spent whining to therapists and friends about how I was afraid to do something because I was afraid to fail.  When I fleshed out the thinking, I would often hear myself say, “If I do this and I fail, I will die.”  So, in my psyche, for some reason, failure and Death are intricately linked.  On the day of the email, however, I asked, for the first time ever, 

What is this thing we call “failure”, anyway?

One of the meanings of the word, as defined in the Webster’s dictionary is “a lack of success“.  Success is defined as a “favorable or desired outcome“.

Where there’s desire, there’s suffering – A Yogic View

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Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutra-s, goes to great lengths to explain the causes of suffering.  Like the roots of a tree, the very foundation of suffering is a deep misunderstanding about reality.  From these roots sprouts a sense of separation.  “I” become separate and different from “you”, and what “I” desire becomes of utmost importance to me.  In fact, I spend my days working to hook and reel in to me all of those things I desire, pushing away what I find to be most unsuitable, and fearing losing it all, including my own life.

If success means getting what we want, then failure means not attaining the object of our desire.  And when we don’t get what we want?  

SUFFERING!

Suffering in the form of painful thoughts – I’m a big, fat loser.  I’ll never amount to anything.  I’m completely unworthy of all that’s good in the world.  I’ll never be happy

Suffering in the form of stormy emotions – anger, depression, jealousy

Suffering in the body – acid stomach, pounding heart, exhaustion, lethargy, tension

Suffering in action – the urge to lash out, to retaliate; actually lashing out and retaliating; refusing to move forward and try new things

The Masters teach that where there’s even the tiniest seed of desire, there will be suffering.  It’s a guarantee!

Freedom

Patanjali never leaves us in this despairing place of recognizing suffering without offering a way out.  Indeed, he outlines very clearly what we can do for ourselves, and in relation to others, that can help us move towards freedom from suffering.  In this wonderful list he calls the yamas and niyamas are 2 “doorways” out and away from desire, failure, and the consequent suffering.  Patanjali calls these doorways samtosa (contentment) and isvarapranidhana (surrending the fruits of your efforts to something higher).  (These are very rudimentary definitions of the concepts that can be studied for a lifetime.)

Contentment is not an Eeyoresque type of resignation – “Oooooooh well.”  No.  Contentment comes when we know we have done all we can to attain a particular goal.  If the outcome is not what we had hoped for, we can rest easy knowing we did all we could to help the vision flourish.  When we surrender the fruits of our efforts, we can say, “Okay, well, this didn’t work out the way I had hoped, but, clearly, something else was meant to happen.”  It is here that we can find a deep reservoir of peace; all is well.

For example, last October I decided I would like to run a diabetes-focused Yoga therapy group on my own.  There was a space I had wanted to check out for many years and this gave me the best opportunity to do just that.  I discovered that the financial risk in attempting this series would be minimal, so I signed the rental agreement, put down the non-refundable deposit, and worked at getting the word out into the community.  What happened?  In simple terms, it failed. Not enough people signed up to run the group.  What happened instead?  Most unexpectedly, I was approached by a diabetes organization to run a group out of their location.  

So did I really fail?

NO!

I had a plan in mind.  I set to make that plan a reality.  I put in the required efforts.  I looked up to the sky (I really did) and said, “I’ll do all that I can. The rest is up to you.  If you want this to come to fruition, it will.  If you want something else to happen, show me the way and I will follow.”  And that’s exactly what happened, and what I did.  So, I may not have gained the object of my desire (running a group on my own), but there was so much more for me to harvest.  I had taken a risk and had grown from it.  I got to check out the location that had interested me for so long. I was invited in to teach what I wanted to teach, but didn’t have to do all of the annoying footwork of marketing, sign-up, etc.  

So.  Many.  Gains.

In the End, Failure is an Illusion

What I found deep inside my contemplation of the concept of “failure” is that it doesn’t actually exist.  Failure is simply a word we use to say, “I didn’t get what I wanted.”  The buck stops right there.  How can you argue with that?  You can’t.  Sure, you can choose to have what amounts to a complete tantrum over it, stomping around like a 3 year old and screaming, “BUT I WANT IT!  I WAAAAAAAANT IT.” But why?  Where does it get you? It gets you sick.  It gets you tired.  It gets you alone.  But if it ain’t happenin’, it just ain’t happenin’. Yes, have your feelings (quietly and in a contained sort of way).  Feel disappointed.  Feel scared. Feel it all!  And then, try compassionately shifting your focus from what you’ve lost, and take stock of all that you’ve gained.  Because you’ve gained something along the way.  You can trust that.  

There is Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself – Franklin D. Roosevelt

What started off as a spiral of harmful emotions, triggered by one sentence in one email, turned into the knowing that failure is nothing to be feared. You can’t fear something that doesn’t exist!  So the next time you hear yourself say, “I’m afraid to try because I’m afraid to fail,” stop, breathe, and think about this.  What you’re really saying is, “I’m afraid I won’t get what I want.”  But know, deep down inside, that you will get something. Desikachar would teach, “If you put in the efforts, something will happen.”  And if that something isn’t what you had hoped for, trust that you have the tools to manage the disappointment and keep walking.  Besides

You can’t always get what you want/But if you try sometimes/You might find/You get what you need. – The Rolling Stones

Now, go and be fearless!  🙂

With much love,

Tabitha

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One can never command the mind.  There is only one way to reach the mind.  It is through the breath. – Dr. Chandrasekaran

The holidays are upon us and I can see it in my students’ bodies – rapid, shallow breathing; tense bellies, upper backs, jaws and shoulders; digestive issues galore.  Recently I received a message from someone asking if I could share some pointers on how to “manage my moods and anxiety”.  *exhale*  Phew!  That’s a tall order.  Anxiety is an amorphous entity; that is, anxiety is an ever-changing constellation of symptoms that arise and impact each individual sufferer in a unique way.  As a result, it is best dealt with one-on-one with a Yoga therapist or skilled Yoga teacher who can create for you a practice that addresses you and your symptoms alone.  The Western “one size fits all” mentality is not the Yogic way.

That being said, there is one thing that is safe, accessible, and has helped many.  I bring to you my favourite breathing technique.


 * Settle yourself in to a comfortable lying position.  Allow the body to feel completely supported in a way where tension can drop away and you can focus on your breath.

 

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Begin to observe the easy rise and fall of the belly as you breathe in and out.  Let the breath be natural and simply observe.  Tune in to your breath.

* Now begin to extend the length of the inhale.  Perhaps begin with a 4 second count.  Slowly start to breathe in and count 1…2…3…4.  Let it be a slow count.  Then pause for 1 or 2 seconds and exhale a long, slow, smooth exhale.  Pause briefly again.

* Return to the inhale and this time see if you can inhale to a count of 5.  Pause.  Exhale.  Pause again.

Continue increasing the inhale by 1 second with each round until you discover your maximum inhale.  This maximum should be easy to manage and feel comfortable in the body.  You will know there is strain if tension begins to develop in the body and mind, and/or if you strain for the next breath.  If this happens, reduce the inhale by 1 second and stay at that level.  Remember:  There is no failing.  A higher number does not mean you’re “better” at this.  The number is there for concentration purposes.  It is not a gauge of your success.  If you’re breathing, you’re successful.  Be kind and leave it at that.  🙂

Once you’ve found your maximum inhale, stay there for a number of breaths; that is, continue breathing to that level for 6 or 8 breaths, whichever feels most accessible to you.

* Imagine that each time you come to that brief pause after inhale and exhale, you enter an oasis of complete stillness and quiet.  The body, mind and breath can remain safely suspended in space for a brief moment, and then can continue on.  Do your best to relax in the pause.  Be empty.  Be quiet.

* When you’ve completed your  6 or 8 breaths, drop the technique.  Release the mind from counting and simply return to the natural breath.  Enjoy breathing in and out for a few moments and then move on with your day (or, hopefully, drift into sleep if you’re visiting this in the middle of the night).


I have given this technique to every student who has seen me for help with their anxiety.  They have turned to it again and again whenever their symptoms of anxiety arise.  While it might not be the elimination cure we all hope for, it has the capacity to settle the system to an extent where symptoms begin to dissipate, sleep improves, and stress levels decrease.  Even when the situation is dire (as in the case of grief and loss), this breath technique has allowed students to cope in ways they never thought possible.  Heck, I use it and it works!

I invite you to challenge yourself to suspend disbelief for a moment and give this a whirl.  I’d love to hear your feedback.

Regardless, have a wonderful holiday season.  May you be surrounded by joy and love.  As I said to my students, “DREAM BIG!”  Love hard.  KEEP BREATHING!  And see you soon.

All my love,

Tabitha

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i-need-to-pee

I recently wrote an email to my students talking about female incontinence.  It was requested that I share what I wrote with a wider audience, so here I am doing just that.  I hope it helps!  (There seems to be a formatting issue that I cannot resolve.  Please excuse the “clump” of information.)

Tabitha


It’s delicate territory I’m about to enter – the territory of female incontinence – but it’s important territory.  If discussions such as these make you uncomfortable, be kind to yourself and hit “delete” now.  For those who are interested, read on.
If you’ve known me for a while, you’ll know I push back against societal messages such as, “Oh well, it’s an age thing.”  Commercials of women bouncing around and giggling as they leak into their pants (or hygiene product) sets me on fire.  There are many things that happen as the body ages, yes, but things like incontinence are not inevitable.  For sure, there are medical conditions that create this circumstance in the body, and sometimes surgical intervention is the only way to go, but, outside of a medical issue, if you think you have to pee when you sneeze, think again.  Yoga addresses this issue with great success.
It’s all about the pelvic floor.  Most of us have heard about this area of the body, but it’s a difficult space to access.  Here’s a very concrete exercise I have used that, when practiced consistently, works at helping women to find and strengthen this area.   I call it the “mid pee hold”, and it goes like this:
When seated on the toilet, lean all the way forward so that your belly is resting on your thighs, or fold forward as far as you can.  Keep your seat engaged with the toilet so your thighs are at rest, and you can really get a sense of the area in which the work is happening.  Begin to release urine, then squeeze all the muscles involved to get the stream to stop.  Hold for 5 seconds.  Release urine again.  Squeeze again.  Hold for 5 seconds.  Continue until the bladder is completely empty.  Then, move on with your day.  Repeat this process throughout the day, every day.  For those who like schedules, I recommend every other bathroom visit.
You may find, in the beginning, that you are struggling to stop the urine.  All I can say is, stick with it.  Change comes.  This is, by far, the most effective way to access and strengthen the pelvic floor I have seen to date.
Best of luck to those who give this a whirl.  May you no longer be afraid to laugh, cough or sneeze.  😉
All the best,
Tabitha

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cherry-mirror

 

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. – Henry David Thoreau

I have had the beautiful privilege of having relationships with my grandparents well into adulthood.  My grandmother and I have known one another for 42 years, longer than so many relationships these days.  It is an awesome experience to move beyond the ignorance of youth and into a space where I can learn about my grandmother as a person, as a woman who has experienced many things.  It also means my mind has had more time to create troublemaking bullshit.

We are a rough, proud people with an independent streak that runs deep and wide, so the reality that age eventually brings with it fragility and a need for relocation and added support, comes as quite a surprise to a mind such as mine that prefers to live in denial around such things.  My mantra over the years has been that the only way I want to see my grandmother leave her house is in a box.  Not that I wished for my grandmother’s death, oh no.  On the contrary, I prayed over and over again that she be able to stay in that house until her last breath, and I convinced myself that it was what she wanted as well.

Imagine my shock when things began to play out in another way.  My grandmother, who has been on the waiting list for a retirement home for a number of years, finally got the call that a unit has become available.  And she accepted.  My grandmother will be leaving her house, but not in the way my mind had created, not in a box, but of her own free will!

Have you ever tried to take away a cherished toy from a young child?  It’s bedlam.  There are loud animalistic noises that sound like someone is being killed, and an obsessive, desperate grabbing, grabbing, grabbing for the one thing that is, “MINE!  MINE!  MINE!”  It’s very much like this in the mind as well when you try to take away the long-held story.

Quite simply, I freaked.  My mind was a roaring shitstorm running around from corner to corner screaming, “NO!  MINE MINE MINE!  MY NANNY!  MY HOUSE!  MY NANNY IN HOUSE!  MY NUMBER 27!  MY KITCHEN!  MIIIIIIIIINE!”  Oh my lord, it has been painful.  And ridiculous.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali speak of three types of mental afflictions that ultimately cause human suffering:  clinging, pulling away and denial. I have been suffering from all three as I hang on to a false story like a life preserver, pulling away from any possibility other than my false story, and shoving my head deep in the sand in order to avoid facing the situation altogether.

Running from reality is like trying to outrun your conjoined twin.  You can twist your head in the opposite direction all you want but that doesn’t change the fact that your twin, reality, is completely connected to you.  Best to stop, breathe, look and learn to live with this thing, right?  So, I stopped.  Stopping was hard, I won’t lie, but I did it.  I stopped and took this hysterical part of me to the yoga mat, to the garden, to the meditation cushion.  We spent a lot of time together.  There was a good deal of gut-wrenching crying that had me looking like this:

Bags_Under_Eyes_Secret_of_the_Puffy_Peepers-231x300It wasn’t pretty but, even though I could not see clearly from my physical eyes (due to unsightly swelling, of course  🙂 ), I could suddenly see from the eyes of my heart.  I could see that my grandmother was old, fragile, afraid and in need of help.  I could see she was ready and able to let go of the house in order to build a home somewhere else.  I could see her need for companionship and community, something she could no longer access at her current location.  I could see my grandmother having the strength to let go, to be free and to move on.  How incredibly selfish of me to ask her to stay, suffering deeply, for the sake of my mind’s story and my emotional comfort!  Suddenly the pathway of the mind shifted from “My grandmother is going to ‘the home’ to die,” to the new pathway of “My grandmother is going to this new place to LIVE!”  And with this shift has come a profound and solid peace.

My one teacher taught, “The mind is the cause of the problem.  The mind is the solution to the problem.”  No kidding!

If you have found yourself walking through your life disgruntled by some aspect or another, might I suggest you simply crack a bit of time in your world to sit with that feeling?  Just a few moments–in the car, in the bathtub, in the garden…Nothing laboured.  Not a project.  Not in an effort to change or fix things.  Just some soft, gentle time with the feelings, time to help you begin to familiarize yourself with the tapestry your mind has been weaving.  Often, all that’s really required to make a profound shift is this time.  It’s like walking into a dark room and turning on the lights; things automatically look different.

May you have the courage to stop, to stay, and to see.  May your afflictions, the things that cause you such great pain, simply drop away on the breath, with ease.  May your heart know space.  May your life be filled with love.

My Nan and me almost 7 years ago on her 80th birthday

My Nan and me almost 7 years ago on her 80th birthday

All my love,

Tabitha

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manFallingOverSculpture

 

Standing yoga balances–the art of standing on one foot–are known to increase concentration, to strengthen the legs, knees, ankles and feet, to calm the nervous system, and to increase mental focus.  That’s what they’re known for but the reality, as I consistently witness in my classes, can often look like something else.  Nothing seems to get the majority of my students more riled up than standing balance poses.  This is where I most often witness anger, frustration, despair, and “giving up” as bodies teeter, with feet and legs working hard to keep an upright, balanced position.  This is where my students are more likely drop out of practice after only a few short moments by leaving the body and entering the realm of speech.  Instead of doing the pose and experiencing the challenge in the body, they will turn to me and exclaim in wonder at how hard it is, at how they simply can’t do it and don’t understand why; in short, they will run away.  And this is where it all gets interesting.

We humans hate like hell to feel off-kilter.  We don’t like to feel wobbly.  We don’t like to feel out of control.  We don’t like to feel vulnerable, especially when other people are around to witness our struggle.  So why, then, would we take a standing balance pose and purposely put ourselves in a position where we are constantly at risk of falling over?  For precisely the reasons we resist:  to feel wobbly; to feel out of control; to feel vulnerable, especially when other people are around to witness our struggle.  We take these stances and challenge our comfort zones in a contained way so we can learn more about ourselves, so we can understand our chronic responses to feelings we often label as “less than desirable”.  In trying to stand on one foot in a yoga class, we may discover that we get right pissed off when we lose balance and fall over, and this leads to us wanting to give up.  Or we may find out that when we feel vulnerable, we begin to talk…A LOT; we try to escape the feelings in the body by moving into distracting speech.

All of this acts as a signpost to how we behave out in the world.  Life is an endless stream of events that work to throw us off balance.  How many times have you had your day set with all the tasks perfectly spread out and timed, and then the curve ball came crashing in–your car has a flat tire, you get an emergency call about a family member, you wind up in bumper-to-bumper traffic getting nowhere fast?  Disorienting, isn’t it?  Can you come back to balance when things have thrown you for a loop?  Can you maintain your composure and stay calm?  Can you allow your mind and breath to settle before deciding on how to proceed?  Can you take a few breaths?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

I always hear the voices of my teachers when offering standing balances to my students:  Teacher One:  “It’s not about whether you will fall out of balance, it’s about what you do when you get there.”  (Will you try again?)  Teacher 2:  “Ah, not today.”  (Some days it’s just not working.  Some days you need simply to stand still…on both feet.)

Trying to find centre in the midst of the chaos that can erupt when thrown off kilter is an amazing way to break your heart open and to find compassion, both for yourself and for all the others out there who are working to do the same.  So the next time you fall over (and you will), whether it be physically or otherwise (like when you lose your composure and your temper), instead of scolding yourself for failing somehow, offer yourself compassion for your humanity; say to yourself, “Ah, not today.  Today, in this moment, I cannot achieve balance,” and take 3 deep breaths.  See how that one simple thing can change your life.

And when you’re out in the world and you witness someone else losing her balance in some fashion, feel your heart open up.  If you can, offer assistance.  If you can’t offer assistance, perhaps offer compassion in the same way you did for yourself:  “Ah, not today.  Today, in this moment, she cannot achieve balance,” and take 3 deep breaths for her.  And if even that feels like a stretch, because sometimes people, in their loss of balance, can act in ways we just cannot understand or soften towards, just breathe and see how that one simple thing can change the world.

I’ll be seeing you, face-planted, on the mat and on the mat of life.  Maybe, when we lock eyes, we can smile at one another; we won’t be alone.

 

Until then, much love and many blessings,

Tabitha

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I DON'T WANNA!

I DON’T WANNA!

I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t want to be here, in front of this computer screen, working at putting words down in a way that may provoke thought, or inspire, or….whatever.  I just don’t want to be here, the same way I didn’t want to walk my backside down the hallway to the yoga studio for my morning practice.  I opened my eyes this morning, a half hour later than I would normally get up, and I was whomped with a good old fashioned case of “I DON’T WANNA!”  I’m sure the Masters have a more elegant term for this–resistance, self-sabotage, hitting the wall, turning point, etc.  Regardless of the name, what I have is a mind that is pitching one royal fit these days as it begins all sentences with “I DON’T WANNA!”  I don’t wanna do my yoga practice.  I don’t wanna write.  I don’t wanna teach.  I don’t wanna go in to work.  I don’t wanna go anywhere.

I…just…don’t…wanna!

This isn’t a case of depression, by the way; it’s too active a state of mind to be that.  It’s something happening within my psyche that kicks up from time to time and tries to tell me that sleep and comfort are superior to my “disciplines”.  I read an article recently by a yoga teacher that said, if left to its own devices, the body would drag us down into bad habits.  We’d become slovenly.  We’d eat nothing but crap and we’d pound back the vodka to wash it all down.  I could not have disagreed more with an article.  It’s not the body that does this, in my opinion and experience, it’s the mind.  It’s the mind that goes into some kind of crisis and begs to creep back into the comfort zone of ice cream, flannel pyjamas and 18 hours of sleep.  Why does the mind do this?  I’ll be damned if I know but I suspect it’s simply the nature of the mind to kick up a fuss.

All of this brings me back a number of years to the weekend workshop I was obliged to attend during my yoga teacher training.  It was January and it was one of the coldest Januarys I can remember.  It was grey and there were piles of snow everywhere.  Navigating the roads was no small feat and, for this workshop, I had to travel into the very core of the city during rush hour traffic.  The mere thought of it felt like complete hell on earth, never mind the actual reality.  I was not a happy camper.  There I sat in a room filled with fellow trainees and other community members when my teacher opened the session with one of my most hated questions, “Why are you here today?”  I knew I was in serious trouble.  The people surrounding me, who all looked so colourful and perky while I was feeling grey and sluggish, answered with profound and lovely statements that had to do with inner peace and expanding knowledge.  All my mind could come up with was a fit of, “I’m here because I’m forced to be here.  I’m here because I won’t graduate if I don’t attend, but trust me, I don’t want to be here!”  I didn’t want to be rude and I certainly did not want to lie to my teacher. When my turn came, I took a deep breath and said, “I don’t know why I’m here.  I’ve hit the wall and I’m not sure I even want to continue with the training.  So I decided I would just show up and see what happens.”

And there it was, the golden nugget that fell out of the sky and into my lap, the key to it all:  Just…show…up.

That became my mantra for the weekend–Just show up and the rest will take care of itself.  It became my mantra for the remainder of my training.  And for my first yoga series offering.  And for Monday mornings at the office.  And for life in general.  I even find myself offering it to my students.

JUST SHOW UP.

Show up when you’d much rather be sleeping.  Show up when you think you don’t have enough time in your life to be there.  Show up regardless of how you’re feeling–happy, sad, angry, full of despair.  Show up even if you’ve had an argument with your loved one.  Show up when you have no idea what to say.  And show up when you can’t manage to stop talking.  If there’s something in your life that you know is good for you, that keeps you steady and grounded, that improves your sense of well-being, that works as a healing balm for your sanity, then, for god’s sake, show up.  All you need to do is arrive, bad mood and all, and the rest really does take care of itself.

So today I dragged my sorry, whining ass over to the mat and did my morning practice.  I showed up and walked away with a sense of bliss.  It might have been temporary, but it was there.  I also sat myself down in front of this computer with, apparently, nothing to say.  As of this moment, I have discovered over 800 words to share with you.  I showed up and the post arrived.

I haven’t met a single human yet who hasn’t, at some point or other, hit the wall and felt like sliding down to the ground and parking butt.  It may just be who we are as humans.  At those times, when you know deep within yourself that you need to push against inertia, I suggest you do what it takes–crawl, roll, drag, walk–to get to that thing that works best for you, the thing you are resisting.  Offer yourself to it, even if you’re ragged and bloody.  Write this down for fortification if you need to:

JUST SHOW UP.

The rest will take care of itself.

And it does.

With sore muscles, a cranky mind, and (figuratively) bloody fingers,

all my love,

Tabitha

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Ibelieveinyou

Ever since my friend put me on to the video I posted last week entitled “Never Ever Give Up” (you can find it here) I can’t stop thinking about the power of belief to change a life, and about the impact teachers can have on their students.  Going back to the video, I think that man’s yoga teacher could have given him an exercise as simple as “jump on one foot” and it would have made all the difference in the world.  Why?  Because the belief in the student’s ability to transform was there long before the set of exercises was given out.  The teacher believed when the student could not, and isn’t that a remarkable thing?  Isn’t that what it’s all about, not just between teacher and student, but between us all as believing mirrors for one another?

I love when students begin to practice yoga with me.  I hear all kinds of fanciful stories about how out of shape they are, how they lack flexibility, and how they can’t do this, that and the other thing, especially because they’re so old.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret:  While I smile and nod graciously, truly understanding the importance of being heard and validated, I don’t buy any of it.  In my mind, I think, “Let’s just see about that.”  And I don’t mean that in a patronizing way.  I just wonder how much of the belief system we each hold on to is based on fact and how much is adopted story.  I work exclusively with women and, in this world, we are told constantly how it’s over for us once we move past the age of 25 (or is it younger now?  It seems younger to me.) We’re done.  We have nothing to offer.  We’re sliding downhill into frailty and dementia.  And I say:  BULLSHIT!  Again, let’s just see about that.

And, my word, I have seen.  I have seen a 70 year old woman who, after 2 years of practice, flipped ass-over-tea-kettle and hopped up into a wall-supported handstand.  I have seen a 66 year old woman commit to a regular yoga practice for 2 years, when she has struggled to commit to any kind of physical exercise her whole life.  I have seen a woman who, in the beginning, could not sit still and close her eyes in meditation, become one of the most still and focused students in class.  I have seen.  On the first day, I have looked into your eyes and while you speak to me of what you lack, I see all the potential that exists.  And the day that you begin to see it for yourself  is the day that you begin to hold yourself up.  What a glorious day!

This isn’t about how I’m some kind of grand yoga teacher.  I’m not.  I’m just some average chick running classes from her home.  This is about the life-changing effects of believing in one another.  It’s about having the courage to dive with one another beneath the skin and into the soul of the matter, and once you reach the soul, there’s nothing that can’t happen.  In the place of the soul, “can’t” doesn’t exist.

For me, it happened with the written word.  Words are magic for me and capturing what is in my head and getting it just right down on the paper is a bliss unimaginable.  But my storytelling capacity wasn’t exactly nurtured by the nuns in nursery school.  Nope.  I had to do and redo and redo again my paragraphs so my letters fit perfectly inside the lines.  Forget about the quality of the story, it was the pretty handwriting that counted.  Silliness.  When I was 10 years old, I met the man who would change my writing life forever.

Mr. LaPlume was fresh out of teacher’s college, with glasses and a shock of flaming orange hair.  He was young, vibrant and full of life, and he did that one thing that would turn everything “writing” on its head:  He told my parents that I had something when it came to words; I had a gift for writing. I had never heard that before.  For years I had only heard about what was “wrong”, never about what was right or what could be.  Mr. LaPlume believed in my talent and I believed in Mr. LaPlume.  If he thought my writing was good, maybe, just maybe, it was. To this day, when the scary writer’s thoughts enter my mind and I worry that I will run out of things to say, Mr. LaPlume’s shiny face enters my mind and I think, “Mr. LaPlume believed in me.  I can do this.”  Some things never leave…thank god!

So, who believes in you?  Who is the shining star who said that one perfect thing at just the right time to help you take that leap of faith?  Who is the person who has stood by you time and again, and encouraged you and celebrated with you, with pom poms, whenever you overcame yourself and DID IT, whatever “it” is?  Who holds the faith in you when you’re feeling too fragile to hold it for yourself?  If, for some reason, no one comes to mind, I’ll tell you this:

i believe in you

I believe in who you are and in what you can do, and there’s a whole army of good people standing behind me who believe in you too.  Just reach out into the ether and you’ll know we’re there.  Then…do it, whatever “it” is.  We’ll be there, pom poms in hand, smiling right along with you.  Some angels aren’t meant to be seen, but they’re still there.

Have a blessed day!

Tabitha

ps.  Mr. LaPlume, if you’re out there…THANK YOU.  You helped to change my life.

 

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