Don’t fear.

By on Dec 15, 2011 in The Unruly Ascetic, Uncategorized

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But I am fearing. Fear is there.

What does it mean to be afraid of your practice?  I know what it means to be afriad of the teacher (or more aptly, the assistant).  I know what it means to be afraid of an injury (or the pain).  But I have never before known what it means to be afraid of the practice.  I have never known the practice to seem so foreign. so strange and unmanageable.

Don’t fear. You come.
Okay. that’s why you’re the Boss. I will come.
He may be the boss of me, but he’s okay with me being the boss of myself.  Having deferred to him, he handed the decisions right back to me.
I can do this.

So what is so. damn. scary? Paining? well, that’s been there a couple if days and hasn’t been particularly scary.  It has been strange, foreign, even comical at times (I don’t look like that crippled dog, damnit). Hitting a stumbling block? Well, sure, that’s frustrating and not fun, but certainly not scary. What then?

The unknown (the one thing I thought I loved above all else!).
The scary thing is that I don’t know what practice is going to be like tomorrow.  I don’t know how I will feel in the morning.  I don’t know how I will feel when I start moving.  I don’t know where I will need to stop, if I will decide for myself or if Sharath will decide for me. I have no idea how my body will feel about practicing. I have no idea if my mind will be able to listen to what my body needs. I have no idea if my mind (or Sharath’s) will make the right decisions about what my body needs (because we both failed earlier this week).
and that is scary.

But as I process and accept this course of events (the necessity of practicing, more than the injury itself), I am realizing that there is a level of comfort in this approach.  I just found myself saying “he is the boss of me” in response to a friend’s horror at my plan to practice in the morning. “You are the boss of you.”
Well, sure. 
But Sharath is right (and that’s why he’s the Boss).
The point of the practice is that it heals.  That is why I didn’t stop last week when the pain started.  I had faith in the practice and the rightness of it.  My mistake was in continuing to move forward. Sometimes you have to take a step back, give the body space to find evenness, and then begin moving forward again.  Stopping cold, and then trying again to move forward won’t necessarily allow the body space to change.  Only a strict awareness in the practice can do that.
So there it is.
My practice is not a series of poses that ends at the furthest point the Boss has encouraged me to go.  My practice is my breath and my bandhas and the furthest point my body can go without pain. My practice is not the collective of all I have been able to do, it is what I am able to do right now.

Ha! and I thought I already learned this lesson…

In realizing this, the fear is leaving.
Don’t fear. okay. I won’t.

My practice is my friend, not my enemy.  The practice did not do this to my body. Sharath did not do this to my body. I did this to my body. I forgot what my practice is, what it is for.  It is not a way to ingratiate myself with my teachers.  It is not a way to impress people.  It is not a way to have fun and get some exercise. It is the way to learn who I am. It is the path, the window to root of my very existence. of this very existence.

How on earth could I have even considered not practicing?

For once (facing a led class), I am not going to trying to get through my practice.  If you’re just getting through it, then it is not yours.  I am not sure I’ve ever done my practice during a led class before, I’ve mostly just followed instructions. Tomorrow I am going to the shala to do my practice.  I have NO idea what my practice will be.  I have no way to decide or prepare. But I know what my practice is and what it is for.
Maybe I don’t have to do what Sharath says. Maybe (maaaaaybe) he won’t notice if I am not there tomorrow. But I am the boss of me and I will be there. 


  1. RM

    December 15, 2011

    Agree, agree agree. This whole yoga thing is such a balancing act. We want effort but we don’t want to strain, we want to sit with uncomfortable sensations but we don’t want to injury ourselves, we want to be enthusiastic but not in an ego type way. It’s really no wonder that sometimes we fall in this precise balancing act. But maybe that’s how we learn…

  2. Matthew

    December 15, 2011

    I like this a lot. Today was my second to last day of practice and I woke up with a horrible cold and bone crushing fever. “Practice no mater what unless you have fever”. Fair enough. Why do I feel guilty for not practicing? Tomorrow is my final day. What if the fever is still there…on my last day? Miss my last day of practice in Mysore this year?!
    We shall see.

  3. Zoe Jivani

    December 15, 2011

    Oh no Matty! feel better. This is a different battle, as you know. I can’t believe you’re leaving already. maybe the fever is a sign that you need to stay longer 😉

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