Monday, May 2, 2011

The Edge

In yoga, your "edge" is that thin line between pushing yourself and (physical, not mental) pain. Try just standing up and bending over at the hips, fingers towards the floor. You stop at a certain point because your brain tells you to stop, not because your body cannot go any further. Many of us go through life never challenging this - we stay in the comfort zone our brains create for us. Take a big inhale and then exhale and reach your chest a bit closer to your thighs. Your body can go a little bit farther. Keep doing this - big inhales then exhaling while moving millimeters further into the stretch. Once you truly cannot move any more without physical pain (not just mental discomfort), you have reached your edge. Stay there for a few moments, and suddenly you can usually move even a bit further. Your edge is ever-changing. There are so many variables in your life - what you ate, what time of day it is, what you did leading up to your practice, what is on your mind, etc - that even a few seconds after finding your edge, it may have moved. In order to grow in anything you do, you need to find your edge and work to move past it.

Today's homework is about how I work my edge off my mat. In "real life." As I was thinking about it, I realized so many things I could write about - recently I quit my job to work for myself, which totally took me out of my comfort zone. I invited my boyfriend and his 4 year old son to move into the house I have solely occupied for the past 8 years. That is a true edge, seeing as I am such an independent person. I even just signed up for a triathlon when I have never ran more than a 1/4 mile in my life.

But none of those have taken me as far out of my comfort zone as simply stating my opinions. This is something I have never really done. I am a people-pleaser. My most overused phrases are "sorry!" and "just kidding!" I go out of my way to worry if people are enjoying themselves, or liking me, or whatnot. I keep my beliefs to myself so as not to offend. For 30 years I have kept mum on being a vegetarian because I didn't want anyone to feel awkward eating around me. When people have acknowledged it, I brushed it off to put them at ease.

Maybe it is me growing up, or the confidence this yoga teacher training is giving me, but suddenly I feel my opinions have as much weight and merit as anyone else's. I speak up about my love of animals and disgust at eating them. I debate people who believe yoga is "just stretching." I put forth the "unpopular" opinion without regret. This is something I have never done in my life, and makes me very uncomfortable to do. But lately, I am continuing to do it, to push this edge I have never explored.

The perfect example came this morning. Last night, it was announced that Osama Bin Laden was killed. I woke to facebook virtually cheering - with everyone's status updates proclaiming what a great day it was. They did everything but sing Wizard of Oz's "The Wicked Witch is Dead" song. However, I couldn't join in. To me, it seemed horrible to celebrate someone's death. To me, all life has value. I get that what he did was horrific, but he did it because he was taught we were the enemy. Looking from his point of view, he "got the bad guys." How is that any more evil than us stalking and killing him? True less life was lost in our attack, but it is essentially the same thing - premeditated murder. So why do we cheer when we do it yet shun someone else when they do it to us?  

I went back and forth about posting my thoughts on facebook. I knew it wouldn't be popular. I knew I would offend people. I knew I was opening myself up to attacks from people who couldn't understand how I could look at Bin Laden as a human being. It probably took me 5 full minutes to hit "post" after I wrote my status update. Should I or shouldn't I? I hit the button. Almost immediately, my friends starting joining the conversation. To my surprise, it wasn't all the "you suck, I hate you" that I had expected. There were intelligent comments that make me stop to think. There were all different points of view, given from people with different life experiences than myself. There were people who agreed with me and people who didn't. And even when people didn't agree with me, the world didn't cave in. My unpopular opinion didn't make me self-combust. Instead, I learned a lot. I saw things through other people's eyes. Although I may not have agreed with it, I could see where others were coming from.

I believe the hardest part of life is getting outside of your comfort zone, of "playing your edge." But slowly, I am learning there are immense rewards for such exploration. How can you grow if you never push your boundaries? Think of something that would make you really uncomfortable and then go do it. Why not? You will probably find, like I did, that the positives outweigh the negatives.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! It takes bravery to play an edge knowing that it could be uncomfortable. Like taking a whole row of students out in a yoga class while attempting a one-arm balance!