This is not a blogspot about yoga.  I just come to understand things through movement and the metaphors embodiment provides are essential for me to make sense of the rest of my life.  Here is the latest one. 

For years I have experienced the framing of yoga as a practice, where you come to your mat fresh each day and the practice – the showing up on your mat, releasing judgment, taking risks – happens each time, without regard for what happened yesterday, last week, or what will happen tomorrow. 

More recently, I have become aware of cognitive and emotional capacities as requiring practice.  This recognition is somehow freeing and reassuring to me.  If Pema Chodron is still practicing fearlessness, open-heartedness, and compassion, then clearly I need to practice too.  How would the world look different if we all gave ourselves the freedom and forgiveness required to practice?

The learning curve with emotional practice comes from glimpsing what is possible, in yourself and between others, and then losing it again.  Whole-hearted connection, non-judgmental acknowledgment and forgiveness, courage to speak openly – these moments are beautiful when they happen.  And then old habits appear, of course, like a bad skiing behavior that you have to keep noticing and shifting back to the new, freeing practice.  Why keep trying, keep regaining balance, keep asking (and granting) forgiveness? As Victoria Safford reported the AIDS activists marching in the first Pride parades claimed: “Once you have glimpsed the world as it might be, as it ought to be, as it's going to be (however that vision appears to you), it is impossible to live anymore compliant and complacent in the world as it is.”

I work with many students and trainees and faculty who assume certain skills or behaviors come naturally to others, or are the result of natural talents.  While we certainly bring propensities toward capacities – for connection, for effective communication, for focus, for analysis – these all grow, sharpen, and really emerge through practice.  Some say 10,000 hours worth. What capacity do you want to sharpen in your life?  Come to your mat.  Practice with me. 

Related readings:

Malcom Gladwell recently clarified his 10,000 hour rule in the New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/sportingscene/2013/08/psychology-ten-thousand-hour-rule-complexity.html?mobify=0

And Victoria Safford’s marvelous essay, The Small Work in the Great Work, available at: http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0105-23.htm

Conversational credit: Anthony Back, Kemp Battle, Susan B. Trinidad, and all of you with whom I actively practice and who regularly forgive me when I lose balance and need to start again.  

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