I had the great pleasure of taking a yoga class this morning with Eoin Finn out in Venice. Big sigh...wow, did I need that class! It was a really slow but intense groove, with super grounding music and of course, one of my favorite teachers on the planet. I got sweaty, I laughed, and I let myself really explore the breath in my body. I recognized the woman next to me from a workshop I took a few weeks ago, and it was nice to say hello and have that connection and sense of community, which I don't always feel outside of my "home" studio, Yoga Blend.
Near the end of class, while spending some solid time in Paschimottanasana, Eoin instructed us to turn our gaze towards one of our neighbors, and give them a "hang loose" and a smile. He encouraged us to go ahead and check out the person next to us, and with that gesture, to encourage them and congratulate them on what their body was letting them explore today, generally, to let them know that someone had seen them and that they were awesome.
We do not tend to be a society that is really and honestly able to appreciate one another's gifts and good fortune. Whether a lotto winner, or someone with really loose hamstrings, when we see someone enjoying or expressing their good fortune, our typical response is, "How come I don't get to have that?!" Sound familiar? We've all that moment, call it envy, call it the opposite of aparigraha - we know that feeling of wondering why we have what we have, instead of what someone else has.
I feel so lucky, because I was able to experience a moment on my mat this morning of realizing that I am really grateful for what I've got, and that I do not need to compare myself in a competitive way with ANYONE else! After so many years of auditions, be they for dance or acting projects, it's a huge weight lifted from me to realize that there is no need to metaphorically "keep us with the Joneses" or to be "better" (whatever the hell that means!) than someone or everyone else.
Take that, that permission to just enjoy being yourself and to honor your abilities and now couple that with the act of being "seen" by someone else....so POWERFUL! We have a serious cultural deficit in this area, don't we? We don't see each other. Rushing through check-out lines on our mobile devices, barely speaking to or looking at the checker helping us out. Interrupting conversations with REAL, LIVE PEOPLE to answer an email or take a phone call or look at Facebook.
So to have this exchange, in which I was able to feel totally contented with myself and my practice and to have someone else witness that moment, and to share back with them and act as a witness for them, was incredibly inspiring.
It is really easy to put pressure on ourselves to push, to achieve, to be the best or do the hardest variation of a pose. But what for? A pose does not make you a better person, a pose does not make you more enlightened or closer to the divine, nor does it make you the champion of anything. Despite efforts to add Yoga to the world of competitive sports, there really is no "winning" at yoga. Or if there is, it is determined by how happy and healthful you feel, not how many insane poses you can do.
So whether you made it to your mat today or not, can you pause and take a moment right now to see how totally incredible you are?
Sending you Namaste and Big Love!