For years I thought this was a hindrance to my spiritual growth. I now see that it is the ultimate blessing.
This morning, after my yoga class, a new student said to me that she really appreciated my "teaching" at the beginning of class. What I shared changed her experience during the physical practice. Today's bhavana was inspired by the book I'm reading, The Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer.
In the book, the author talks about a dog who's nature it is to run free that suddenly finds himself in a backyard with an electric fence. The dog, attempts to run free but hits the invisible boundary and is shocked. He learns that if he goes too close to the boundary it's uncomfortable so he stays in the yard. The author goes on to talk about how some dogs are determined to be free. The determined dog will gradually get closer and closer to the boundary. He begins to adjust to the discomfort, little by little. One day, he moves right through the discomfort, crosses the boundary and HE'S FREE! The discomfort is temporary. Once he crosses it, he's free.
The last few days I've been feeling like the dog in the yard with the electric fence. I'm becoming more aware, not only of the fact that the electric fence is my own self-imposed boundary, but also to what extent I will go to avoid being uncomfortable.
There are so many areas in my life that I can see this at play but none as such as in my speech. For most of my life I never felt comfortable speaking my mind to people. Well, let me re-phrase that. It wasn't so much my mind I had trouble expressing, it was my heart. I've gotten better at it but I still find myself holding back when I feel uncomfortable about what I want to say. Speaking from the heart makes me feel vulnerable and that vulnerability is uncomfortable.
I can see now, that my inability to move through the discomfort of speaking what was in my heart was a huge contributing factor in the break-down of my marriage. I was afraid to stand up for myself. I allowed my heart to be ripped to shreds to avoid the discomfort of speaking up. The discomfort that I was afraid of was being alone, being unlovable. In the end, I was alone all along. In the end, I was unlovable... to myself. The more I held back what was in my heart the more alone and unlovable I felt. The self-imposed boundary that I put in place to protect myself ended up being what caused me the most pain.
I'm learning to move through the discomfort. Little by little, I'm sharing from my heart. When I take risks and actually teach from my own personal experience, from my heart, about how I apply the teachings of yoga to my day to day life, I'm free...
There's a catch though... Just like when we practice asana, it's not about pushing past the boundary it's about flirting with our edge. Learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Moving slowly, mindfully, consciously, closer and closer to the self-imposed boundary allowing ourselves time to adjust to a new reality.