Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Week Two Begins….on a Bit of a Self-confidence Downer…

By Lauratri

11th August (4.50 pm)

The full moon peaked at 2 am last night.  Disturbed sleep, vivid dreams, an unsettled air…Feel like I’ve been hit by a bus today.   Fairly certain there’s an animal with teeth in my room.  A bottle of oil drained out onto the desk, fragments of plastic scattered to one side; an energy bar torn in two and partially consumed.  Best remember to tuck my mosquito net into the mattress each night, in the hope that it may act as a deterrent…

Second day of Primary.  Yesterday was a self-practice, all round.  As in Matthew and the assistant teachers were on their mats alongside us.  I can’t help but feel intimidated by that – and find myself, not too obviously, seeking the furthest corner to practice in.  Yesterday was strong.  I felt flexible and fluid, resting back into savasana with a satisfied smile on my face….always, always with “anicca, anicca” echoing in the back of my mind….Good job too, ‘cos this morning I was about as elegant and graceful as a lumbering walrus.  Urgggghhhh…as I eased myself down into my first forward bend of the sun salute…Thighs as thick as old oaks, shoulder creaking, stomach grumpy and bloated.  It’s just one of those things.  I would like Matthew to see what I’m capable of…I would like to be as light and carefree in my practice as I have been in the past…but right now, it just isn’t happening.  I have to just be with it…be the heaviness and disappointment and bleurrrgghhhh…and just stay with each breath and movement.  Anicca, anicca.  It will be over soon.

One of the great things about Matthew’s teaching, and something that definitely drew me towards him in the first place, is his absolute acceptance of us all – just as we are.  He is always patient, and encouraging…allowing us to own our practice.  If you want a quiet, meditative practice…so be it…if you want to push yourself and test your boundaries – so be it.  You decide…and he makes it very clear from the outset that he passes that responsibility over to us….and in doing so, I’ve found that I also own any sense of inadequacy or insecurity.  He’s not putting the pressure on me to be a certain way…I am.

I do feel insecure.  My body image is something that I’ve had to work with all my life, and admittedly, since I discovered yoga it’s improved dramatically, and most of the time I feel confident in myself and happy with all the lumps and bumps – just as they are, but it goes in cycles, and always takes me by surprise – how debilitating it feels when I find myself suddenly feeling conscious of my happy belly, and feel the need to hide my thighs under my sarong, wishing my boobs were smaller as I try to twist, and twist, and wedge my elbow on the outside of my knee in preparation for mari D.  I do look around me – see slim, athletic bodies with strong, graceful practices, and wish, for a moment or two…that was me.   I assume it isn’t very “yogic” to admit such things, and intellectually I understand that it is a form of aversion…not accepting what is…but I’m trying to live what I practice…and that means allowing and meeting whatever feelings arise.

When I’m in the massage world I see all types of bodies, and find beauty in all of them.  Not just aesthetically, but how people move, and carry themselves.  The stories that are told by scars and injuries; the difference just a small amount of self-belief, and confidence makes, regardless of dress size.

I guess, right now, I’m just on a self-confidence ebb.  It makes sense.  Focusing so much time, energy, attention into feeling every single part of the body, through every posture…Primary is beautifully brutal in that regard.  There is no running away…brushing past a section you don’t like.  You have to face yourself.  All of yourself  – under a microscope.  And that isn’t always great fun.  Particularly when you’ve not really made the time to look after yourself for a while…

But, that’s why I’m here.  This is part of the process.  I’m already starting to, not only feel in myself, but see in others too….the arising of personal difficulties.  There’s so much excitement, laughter, and silliness in the first few days, as we reunite/get to know each other while cafe and juice-bar hopping in between practices….but then a time comes when the smiles and banter start to fade, and some seriousness creeps in.  Not so much, that we all stick our heads up our arses…just a recognition that through intensive practice stuff comes up, and it can be ugly and uncomfortable….and finding the space, free from distraction, to sit with that is important.

Things are different for me this time.  I don’t have the shock of a recent bereavement to contend with, or a surfacing trauma from my early twenties to work through….as I said before, life is pretty good right now.  But sometimes that can make the downturns harder.  There’s no real reason to feel sad, or insecure….it just is.  There’s no answer, or looming revelation or breakthrough….just a subtle, ongoing effort to allow, meet and accept the rise and fall of emotion.  The secret is to not hold on.  To not wallow.  To not NEED a label, or a reason.

Anicca, anicca.   Even in the time it took to write this entry, some of the heaviness has begun to lift.  I can smile at my insecurity and look out onto the terrace, where Sofia is painting, and the sun is setting, the strumming of Boris’s guitar climbs the stairs…

The week of silliness and fun is a useful one.  We make friends, find people we trust – a support network transpires.  We reach out to those that are having a tough time, and allow the hugs back when our own tears fall.

*    *   *   *   *   *   *

12th August

It’s 6 am, and the sun is starting to rise.  Boris has already left for his early morning practice, and I find myself alone in this basic but beautiful house overlooking the paddy field.  Am slowly getting used to co-inhabiting my room with some sort of animal with teeth, who chews through my belongings – and did some sort of body slam against the bed post last night.  Ordinarily, that type of presence would have sent me into a panic-stricken frenzy but strangely enough, when I’m traveling my tolerance for such things grows and I tuck myself in, take a few deep breaths and go back to sleep.  In my mind it’s a little, curious mouse, who has a taste for sesame oil and energy bars.  I’d rather not turn on the light and challenge that perception….just in case….

Sastsang last night appeased my insecurities, and I felt more at peace once again.   We discussed the cycle of the moon, asana, the ashtanga tradition and alternative sequencing.  He asked us to be intuitive with our practice and our energies, to try not to predetermine what sequence we’ll be doing; and he asked us to inhabit the space that is our own, followed by the space that is shared, and if we favour one, then to challenge ourselves and venture into the space we ordinarily retreat from…face something that we find scary….because where there is fear, there is excitement too.

It got me to thinking about what I’m afraid of, and there are many things, but these past couple of years have shown that venturing spirit is already in motion.  I have faced, and continue to face, many fears and discomforts.  I get a feeling I already know what’s next…

I better go have my shower now, change into my yoga clothes, roll up my mat, slip on my flip-flops, put on my i-pod shuffle, make my way down the winding path to the shala and see what today brings…


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