18 March, 2014

Darkness on the edge of town

Today was vinyasa with Carley.

It was a 90 minute class. You know how I feel about those. But it was inspiring, because it was Carley. In the middle of the class, she had us do Tree pose, and suggested that we stare at our thumbs, and slowly raise our arms without taking our eyes off of them. She suggested that we notice what comes up when we try to do this. I couldn't do this without falling out of the pose. And the first thought that came to my mind was a brutal criticism of myself. Sadly, it was along those lines of telling myself that I was a piece of crap. I don't normally have those thoughts, at least overtly, in my day-to-day life. But there I was thinking that. And then I started worrying that people around me (especially the guys, for some reason) would see me unable to do it. And I felt completely self-conscious and inadequate. I stopped trying. And just tried to do any version of Tree that I could, which was also hard because my legs were shot. This left me feeling pretty bad.

As the class continued, I tried to move into a place of neutrality about what happened. Instead of dwelling in the emotions of that thought, I tried to observe the fact that this was what came up for me. But it's very difficult to get "curious" about something that feels so bad. How do you allow yourself to sit with strong negative feelings? I guess that is why we hold the poses that are uncomfortable. I can't say I was able to go deeply to the root of it. But I did at least allow myself to coexist with it, rather than hurl it to the side.

Is this something I carry with me everywhere? That I am not good enough. That I will be judged as inadequate by others. That I am not okay as I am. That there's no excuse for falling short or for imperfection.

I never look around a yoga class and feel badly about what the women can do that I can't do. It's almost always a few guys in the room that have me doing the comparison game. When they're doing more than I am, I judge them for showing off: "Why does he have to do the freaking handstand on every Chaturanga?! He probably just doesn't want to do Chair pose!" or "What's with all of the annoying warm up poses before class when everyone else is chilling? Who does he think he's impressing?!" Judgment Judgment Judgment. All that judgment.

And I do it to myself ten times worse.

I know where it came from. But we are here now. And it really doesn't matter to understand where it came from. This is what's happening.

So what am I going to do with it?

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