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Monday, March 9, 2015

Yoga and Trust March 9, 2015

I drive to the gym to take a yoga class as I have been doing four days each week since last September. I know I will be there to relax and stretch as this is the Monday routine. I get out my mat, set my block upon it, take off my shoes and socks and begin to lie on the block stretching my shoulders, my core and my hips.
After a while I begin to feel anxious; the time for the class to begin must have passed. I sit up and yes, the instructor is late. My muscles immediately tense, the thoughts of the day run through my head. My mood has changed in an instant.
I feel the same has happened to the other 30 people in the room. Conversations begin, first in whispers, then louder. One person leaves. Finally, five minutes later, although it seems like fifteen, the instructor enters as if no time has elapsed and begins to move us into position to begin the class. A few people clap. She begins "Listen to your body. This is your practice. Try to stay in the moment for the next 55 minutes or so." My head is saying "Only 45 minutes left now."Slowly, my body responds to the cues and I follow along with the class.
Part of me feels as if I had been lying on a hammock and one of the strings broke. In reality I am lying on a yoga mat on a carpet on a concrete floor of the gym, but in that slight delay, my trust has been broken. Not forever, but it was so immediate it surprised me.
Trust is so fragile. We awaken each day with expectations and if we are disappointed in our assumptions, we become anxious.
The yoga instructors intone "Yoga is here to heal us, not to hurt us. If a posture feels uncomfortable, back away from the posture, modify it to suit your body's needs today." So I don't feel anxiety if my  body won't move the way it did before. I am comfortable making my own decisions about my practice.
But if the instructor is late, or if the instructor is unsure of the routine and hesitates between suggesting the next postures or apolgizes for forgetting something in the routine that I am not even aware she has forgotten, my equilibrium is lost.
The same of course is true with parents and teachers as with local police and world leaders. When we place our trust in others, which we must do as students, as workers, as citizens of a democracy, we expect consistency, a certain confident tone of voice and a routine positive presentation. We want to be held in that protected hammock, our values supported, our bodies and our possessions safe, encouraged to continue to do our best, knowing we are being led in the right direction. We are so often disappointed, we are so often in a state of anxiety, feeling lost. It becomes difficult to continue to feel confident in our choices about our own lives. Recognizing the source of our anxiety can help us stay in touch with our own reality and modify our responses to meet our goals.

1 comment:

  1. I like this piece. Something I find helps is to recognize leaders are flawed human beings just like me. So if the expected confidence breaks a little here & there, perhaps that's a relief from a consistency that after a while feels like a posturing front directed at the followers. What's most important, I think, is to find and develop one's own authority. Ultimately, this is something profound and inborn, not anything a university or other institution can bestow.