03 May, 2013

Struggling (only) to (then) find peace

Today was Power Vinyasa + Meditation with Scott.

The entire class, I felt like I was behind. Always on the back edge of the instructions. Halfway lift? I am still finishing my forward fold. Upward dog? I am still heading down into my low plank. The entire time, the entire class. I am trying to understand. Is it too fast for my breath cycle? Is the timing of Scott's words not familiar to me, and I am just not synchronizing? I try to stay in my practice, but I do take a couple of glances to the sides, and I don't see that people are all over the place. People are in sync with his commands. Of course, there are also some people who are sitting on their mat and not doing the flow at all. I have sometimes wondered if there's a resistance in me that, subconsciously, leads me to intentionally lag the flow that is being called out, with certain teachers. Am I doing it to be subversive? Because, it would seem, if I am always exactly half a pose behind, then maybe I just need to shift my perspective to be in alignment, rather than speed up. But, as the class progressed, I decided that it was, indeed, the pace of the breath not aligning with mine. Have you ever noticed that sometimes there are two beeping sounds coming from different beepers somewhere in the environment. And the beepers sound like they're just offset by a certain amount of time. But, as more time passes, you can notice that the gap between one beep and the next is slowly extending, to the point that, finally, the beeps are momentarily the other way around, with the later one sounding earlier. And then, they briefly align. And then the lag starts all over again. My flow was like that. The reason why there's the illusion of being always just a little behind is that every round of flow ends in a pause in some pose, usually downward dog, and that's a place where everyone re-synchronizes.

So I spent part of the class wondering why my flow is slower than everyone else. These were all fleeting thoughts, and I did keep returning to the breath. But the thoughts ranged from "Why am I slower than everyone else?" to "Why are all these people rushing their breath? They must obviously be rushing their breath to keep up!" to "Why is he teaching so fast? He's the owner of the studio! Why is he going so fast? He should know that it needs to be slower!!" But these are all fleeting thoughts. And I am trying to keep coming back to the breath, because I want to do the work fully, and not just phone it in with body present and mind elsewhere. Making matters worse was the fact that we listened to nothing but Steve Gold. Yes, this is what was going on in my mind.

When class neared the end, we were laying in Savasana, and I noticed that the music was still playing. We are still listening to Steve Gold! And I am thinking, "Why are we still listening to music? Why are we listening to Steve Gold? Usually Scott plays Rolling Stones, or all sorts of cool music! Why? Why?" and I am trying to just let it be.

And then, all of a sudden, I realize... there's a yoga teacher training in the next room. The walls are thin. We are still listening to music because Scott is trying to cover up the background noise of the talking from the training in the other room. He's trying to create a peaceful environment. And then, a series of thoughts fly through my mind. I had asked Jason at the front desk if Scott was teaching, because I thought there might be a substitute due to the teacher training. And Jason said that Scott has been running back and forth, and that he taught his noon class too. And I am now processing this new information and thinking "Today is probably a completely crazy day for Scott." and I am thinking "Maybe we are listening to Steve Gold because Scott's iPod is in the other room with the training." Again, these are all stories, but they're different stories than the ones that were agitating me. And what it served to create for me was a realization that everything is going to be alright. And that the class is not just a student's mindset, but a teacher's mindset too. And we are all in this together.

During the final 15 minutes of class we did a seated meditation. And I found that I became very, very still. So still, that I noticed my body was feeling no discomfort, and I felt almost no urge to move. And I felt complete inner peace. And everything Scott said was right on. At one point during the meditation, the teacher trainees had come out into the hallway and were making quite a bit of noise, and I thought "I wonder if that is irritating Scott?" And sure enough, a few moments later, Scott went to the hallway and asked them to be quiet. This sort of validated my perception that arose that, perhaps, our teacher had a lot on his plate today, and was trying to be 100% for all of these things, and doing the best he can.

And it made me really appreciate a few things. First of all, it made me appreciate the effort that people go through to quietly meet all their responsibilities without complaining or shirking. Second, it made me appreciate the power of perspective, and how it can change everything. And finally, it made me appreciate that yoga and meditation are vehicles that enable us to connect these dots and have these moments of clarity, enabling us to live much more harmoniously and compassionately.

After experiencing 60 minutes of struggle, I walked out of class feeling completely calm and centered, and that period of discomfort was not even in my memory as having been an unpleasant experience.

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