It finally happened. Recently, while subbing for another teacher, a student walked in and saw me. I was not who she expected and I was not who she wanted. So, she promptly turned around and walked out.
If you have any familiarity with the yoga world, you may have heard a thing or two about embracing the feelings of failure and fear. A teacher may have told you to stay present in a certain asana rather than check out. You may have read something about cultivating an ability to stay in uncomfortable areas of your life, so that you may grow and become stronger. I too have heard those things. Heck - I’ve said them countless times to my students. And I really believe them, but in that moment – that student’s rejection took the breath out of me and left me feeling deflated and defensive.
I learned a lot about myself that morning. I heard my ego screaming loudly about being unloved and not good enough. These screams were stronger than my soul whisperings of acceptance, service and truth. I relived the situation over and over. I played it out cruelly, thinking the worst of myself and judging the student critically. I made excuses and went into hiding.
And then I remembered another student – the one that I shrugged off and didn’t give too much credit. This student saw my rejection, my hurt, and responded with kindness and compassion. She saw the truth of the situation and the truth of what I needed. She saw me better than I saw myself. She was my witness.
I took a cue from her and turned to self-study, or the yogic principle of svadhyaya, and became a witness to the situation. I allowed my reactions and emotions to come, linger and go without harshness. I stepped out of my ego and just watched without judgment. I put some distance between myself and my Self. I began to see others' actions as separate from my own worth. And I found compassion and empathy for the student who walked out.
For me, this is not an easy process. It's almost effortless to fall back into patterns of criticism. It take a lot of practice to halt the spiral of disapproval. All I can do is try and keep trying. To notice, pause and recalculate. It is a wonderful thing to see yourself as the true you – a beautiful being deserving of your own love. That’s you, right??
It is. Trust me, I see it.
Yoga teacher, life coach and recovering attorney; tireless supporter of authentic living, stubborn follower of dreams