On Saturday I had an eye-opening conversation with a yoga teacher training classmate. (It was only our second weekend together, so even though we all bonded quickly, we are really still in the getting to know you phase.) During our afternoon break, she asked me a seemingly innocuous question:
“Bekah Outside the Box” … I don’t get it, why did you call your blog that?
For a moment I wasn’t quite sure how to answer, because the answer just seemed so incredibly obvious from my perspective. After contemplating for a moment, I explained:
Well, I’m a really buttoned up, scared, person who does not color outside the lines or risk putting myself out there, but I’ve been experimenting lately with trying something different — doing things that scare me, being open about the fact that I’m human, and being willing to stray outside the box I had put myself in — and my blog is basically about that experiment.
To which she responded:
Hmm, I never would have known that about you. You don’t seem that way at all.
And that was that. We moved on to a different subject without much fanfare, no big deal. It was a simple exchange, but it stuck with me throughout the remainder of the weekend and I kept coming back to this conversation over and over again, unpacking what this exchange meant to me, layer by layer.
See my initial (in my head) reaction was something along the lines of: um, have you really read my blog? You know, like this post where I talk about the bazillion things that scare me? Or this one, all about the neurotic stories I tell myself? Or this one, about how my mind is pretty much a never-ending parade of horribles? I’m not “outside the box” at all!
But to see yourself through another person’s lens offers great perspective — an opportunity to see yourself in an entirely different way than you usually do. And my classmate’s vision of “who I am” was so drastically different from mine that it literally caused me to pause and ask: who am I, Right Now in this moment?
Right now, in this moment, some of the things I might say to describe myself to a stranger include:
- In training to become a yoga teacher.
- An active person.
- A blogger (
- Scared, but (usually) not letting fear stop me.
These are what Christina Feldman might call my “conditions of the moment” — impermanent conditions that will naturally and inevitably change in time. And in thinking about this, it struck me: my conditions of this moment are drastically different from my conditions of the past (and, I’m sure, entirely different than my future conditions will be).
Who I am Right Now is actually not even close to the same as my lifelong self-imposed, self-limiting “identity.” Richard Rosen suggests that by creating stillness, we can “recognize the fallacy and unhealthiness of our limited and self-limiting identity, and allow it to spontaneously fall away,” leaving us with only our true self (or as Ptanjali names it “the Seer” — drashtri — our “eternal, illimitable, unchanging, and perpetually joyful” self).
While I am certainly not suggesting that I have somehow pealed away all of the layers and discovered my true self (come on now, that just seems exceedingly unlikely!), I do believe that I have been taking important steps in that general direction. And through the eyes of those close to me, I am beginning to see those changes in myself and starting to understand that “who I am” is not a static thing at all … in fact, it has even changed throughout the course of writing this blog post!