Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Seeing Or Believing?

By Healingyoga

"Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything."  

  - Thomas Merton

When I first discovered that one of the definitions of yoga is relationship, I was a bit perplexed. I was thinking about yoga in the very basic sense -- postures. The relationship definition came to mean something the more I practiced. After I started applying yoga to my daily life, the very same definition became the most meaningful to me.

Relationship. Now there's a word that carries quite a bit of baggage. Relationships are hard. Relationships require communication and compromise. Relationships are everything. A lot can be said about relationship and its challenges and gifts. For your reading pleasure, here are a few pithy quotes about relationship:

"Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky."  ~Rainer Maria Rilke
"Action has meaning only in relationship and without understanding relationship, action on any level will only breed conflict. The understanding of relationship is infinitely more important than the search for any plan of action." ~Jiddu Krishnamurti

I am far from a relationship expert, although I have been blessed with some incredible relationships in my life. I tend to be an observer. I like to quietly watch before jumping into the fray. I do the same in relationships, for I believe that people are a bit like puzzles, handing you pieces here and there. If you're not paying attention, you won't notice the pieces being offered. In order to put the parts together to see the bigger picture, you have to listen -- to what a person says and doesn't say -- and watch what a person does. This is why listening can be important.

Heck, listening can be the easy part. It's really seeing a person that's tricky.  How many times have you seen not the person in front of you but an image of who you think the person is? It's your education and your beliefs and your cultural influences and your prejudices and your perspective that's creating your perception of the person. Perception isn't necessarily reality, though. It's like looking at an image in a dusty mirror -- the reflection is blurry, coated by a layer of dust.

I've been on the receiving end of this, and I can tell you that it doesn't feel so great. I'd been in a relationship with a group of people for years. As time passed, I, like anyone else, changed. I liken it to going from being a sheep to being a wolf in sheep's clothing. These people were used to seeing me as a sheep. I was labeled sheep and my sheep-like tendancies were often pointed out to me. I suppose for a while I played along (I didn't do this maliciously -- it was merely my immature attempt to fit in). When I started to peel the sheep suit off and showed my authentic self, these folks got a bit freaked out (I guess my wolf fangs were a bit too sharp). They couldn't readjust the vision they had of me, and it damaged the relationship. It can be hard to be mentally flexible when you've made up your mind about someone. 

Perhaps it was this experience that drives me to really look at the person in front of me. This, after all, is my yoga calling card -- I adapt the yoga to the individual rather than the other way around. I work with what's in front of me. I strive to see my client for who he/she is rather than who I think he/she is. 

This isn't always easy. The brain likes to play the association game. I see a lot of clients with back pain, for example. However, if I am in a session with someone suffering from back pain and I go into association mode, my main thought is "Oh, I've seen this before. When someone has back issues, it's usually X, Y, and Z." That's the tricky part -- a client standing in front of me with back pain isn't like the last client that I saw with back pain or the client that I worked with months ago who was also suffering from back pain. Everyone is different. Neglecting to open your mind and your ears could be detrimental to your client and to relationship.

This happens in our relationship with ourselves too, no? We've told ourselves stories about who we are, the roles we play, the way we should or shouldn't be. The question is, are we really seeing ourselves for who we truly are rather than what our labels and our preferences and our prejudices and our beliefs and our education tells us we are? To put it simply -- are we seeing or are we merely believing?

It's hard to discern between the two. Luckily, I get lots of practice with my clients. And myself, of course.

Just a little food for thought...



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