Sometimes yoga brings up alot of crap for me. You know, all those emotions and feelings that you don't allow yourself to feel? (maybe that's just me - God I hope that's not just me). Sometimes it's something going on in my life or in my head, sometimes it's something the teachers says. The problem is that after class I'm left to process this crap on my own. I almost feel like we should have a "support group" of some sort after class to help us work through the issues that the practice brings up but that's a whole other rant.....
Tonight's bhavana was acceptance. Believe me, I know I have stuff I need to accept. I know that I hold on to things that no longer serve me. I know I hold on to old resentments and anger. I feel it in my body, my jaw that aches, my hands that are always clinched, my shoulders that are up around my ears all the time. I know there are things in my life that I need to accept - things that I cannot change. But that's not what I want to talk about. The more my teacher talked about acceptance the more heat I felt in my body and in my mind.
The thoughts in my head went something like this: "Do I have to accept it when people ignore me?" "Do I have to accept it when someone else takes credit for the work that I've done?" "Am I required to accept that I can't say what I feel because it might upset someone else?" "Am I suppose to accept other people's bad behavior?" -- YES! I KNOW! I AM NOT THE FAIRNESS POLICE! I get it!
It's a pattern that is very deeply ingrained in my consciousness that I need to simply accept everything without question. For most of my life it seems I've been in the background. Allowing other people to take center stage, so to speak. Always being the good daughter/wife/mother/friend putting other people's needs before my own. I've done this willingly. Accepting the idea that their feelings or their thoughts or problems were more important than my own. (Are they?) I willingly accepted this role of being the caregiver to everyone - even people I don't even know. Even when the care or kindness wasn't returned. Does that mean that I am required to accept the role of doormat too?
"In practicing acceptance - you gain freedom" the teacher suggests. I can appreciate that that is true. I have even felt a great relief when I have surrendered to something that I know I cannot control. It's the same great relief you feel when you come into child's pose after a strong standing sequence. But tonight, what kept coming back to me was the serenity prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
What I kept thinking tonight was that I need the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know what to accept and what to change. Just like a zebra can't change it's strips I can't change the person I am. I will always be a caregiver - that's just my nature. What I can change is not allowing others to treat me like a door mat. What I need to accept is that I must willingly give without expecting the other person to do the same for me. What I need is the courage to speak my mind even if it means that someone will be upset with me but I need to accept the fact that sometimes people don't want to hear what I have to say. I need the courage to step out of the background and be me - even if it means someone else may need to step into the background for a while.
It's not fair that sometimes we open our hearts only for someone to step on it. It's not fair when you are falling apart and no-one seems to notice. It's not fair that you are practicing acceptance while others are imposing their will upon you. It's these situations that I have a hard time accepting. If I'm not the fairness police who is? Because I have a complaint!!
Oh.....As if it's not hard enough to figure out what to accept and what to change you also have to consider the role of the ego when you feel the need to change something? Was it my ego tonight that was resisting the bhavana of acceptance or was it my inner guide telling me I need to change? A yoga support group would be so awesome right now.......