It’s not about hope


All day in the back of my mind were the secret hopes:

Please let people show up to my first class tonight.

Or no one.

Just not one person. Universe, please, not one person. That’s the worst.

And now, just eight minutes before class, my heart is beating fast with nerves,  and I’m distracting myself by organizing the props on the shelf and reciting a poem by my friend and mentor, Emerald North, in my head.

It’s not about hope
this day to day
wandering of feet.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in this boat, in a new town, teaching in a new studio where no one knows me. I forget how uncomfortable it is, how long it can take to build classes.

It’s not about success or failure, this breathing into and out of the body.

There is the part of me who is faithful, who knows that regardless of whether it’s one person or none or 20 that show up, it’s not a reflection of my worth as a person and as a teacher. But then again, if I really believed that, I’d be able to breathe all the way down to my pelvis right now. I can’t.

It’s not about anything I desire
this skin so sensitive it becomes a doorway

There are the thoughts:

Maybe I should have blessed the space and set intentions.

Maybe I should advertise more.

Maybe it’s the wrong time for a class.

But these things take time, and these thoughts are all just to distract me from having to feel how uncomfortable this is, to try to manage the situation.

Don’t abandon yourself on the cliffs of confusion.

5:30. No one has shown up. (At least it wasn’t one person!) The beating of my heart slows with relief. And sadness. I miss teaching, and I’m impatient for a community of students to build.

The tendency is to pack my stuff up and go. Done and done. I have things I need to pick up at the grocery store, people coming for dinner. But if I left right now I would feel tight for the rest of the evening.

Remember who you are
right here
in the bones of your feet.

And so I sit in badha konasana, and rub my feet.  The setting sun on my back, I feel myself soften. All those hopes today were secret hopes that I wouldn’t have to feel this—the fear, the sadness, the aloneness.

And yet as I ease into my practice, and allow myself to feel what I feel, first in my muscles and then in my heart, my breath starts to make it lower and lower into my belly. Yes, I feel these things, and I am more than them. I can feel that.

The most uncomfortable feeling we could have is not as painful as the sense of continual self-abandonment that is trying to avoid that feeling experience.

So many people wander to their yoga mat, I think, because there is the hope that day to day life won’t feel so hard, that successes will grow, that desires will be met, that confusion will disperse.

But it’s not about hope. Hope alone keeps you in your head, keeps you tight, alienates you from what is real. And what is real is whatever you experience in the moment. So it’s about being willing to find yourself in the experience.

As a teacher, how do you facilitate experience? Which do you tend to create, and which do you tend not to allow. How do you inhabit your own? And how do you let your own experience be not only your teacher, but also your teaching?