Thursday, March 24, 2011
I grew up an overachiever. I don't say that with an ego, or with immense pride, it just is what it is. If the teacher asked for a 2-3 page essay I would write 4 pages. If the assignment was to read through 50 pages I would finish the book instead. If I had a week to do a take home exam I would stay up the first night until I finished it. I have always had a need to exceed expectations. To look good in someone else's eyes. It was almost an obsession. And when I didn't measure up to my own expectations, I would be very hard on myself. I will never forget the Biochem class I got a 2.5 in - I was devastated for months (still kinda am and it was 15 yrs ago!). Didn't matter that I tried my damnedest. I wanted that tangible grade to prove (to myself or to others?) how hard I worked.
Not sure if you guys know, but Yoga Teacher Training is not as easy as you might think. There are lots of books to read and tons of written homework. We have to keep 4 daily journals that get turned in each week - yoga practice, meditation, yoga meals, and gratitude. Plus this past week we had 3 reading assignments, 2 sets of questions from readings, about 6 pages of worksheets to fill out, and an essay, not to mention the 2-3 hours we were required to meet with our study group and practicing actual teaching at some point. Don't get me wrong - I am loving it - but it is a huge time commitment.
As I sat down yesterday to pull together all of my homework to get turned in, I realized I hadn't been keeping up with the daily requirements I was supposed to be journaling about. I was practicing yoga daily, but often meditated only a few times a week and kept completely forgetting about eating yoga meals (basically undisturbed conscious meals where you follow some simple rules to more appreciate your meal and get in tune with your body). My initial reaction was to panic. My journals were incomplete! Should I just make up some meals that never really existed just so I have a full and complete Yoga Meal Journal? I truly considered it. But then I remembered the precepts we took before classes began - one of them being "I shall not lie." I didn't know what to do. Either I lied or I turned in something incomplete, which was unthinkable to me.
And that is when it hit me - this yoga teacher training is for me and only me. It isn't to prove anything to anyone. It is for me to experiment and learn and get what I get out of it. Would I grow more by lying, or by turning in only 4 yoga meals taken over 2 weeks time? Obviously the latter. So I sat with that realization for a few moments. I waited for that self-loathing feeling that usually follows me not doing a "perfect" job on something, but it never came. Instead, I was actually happy I even did 4 meals. Before classes started I wouldn't have ever thought to slow down and focus on my meals. Meditating 3 or 4 times a week - although not the 7 the TT homework requires - is 3 or 4 more times that I was doing before. And that's something to me.
Yoga talks about loving yourself first. About showing compassion to yourself, not just others. I think that message is finally starting to sink in. I don't need to prove anything to others. I just need to make sure I keep myself moving forward, at whatever pace I'm ready for. If I do that, I have nothing to apologize for, nothing to feel bad about, and definitely nothing to prove to the outside world.