I Come To My Mat To Feel

{photo credit :: one yoga}

{photo credit :: one yoga}

Tight.

Gripping.

Always right (or completely silent).

In control.

In balance.

Wanting things to look a certain way.

Striving.

Succeeding.

Intimidating.

Feeling superior.

Wanting to manage people, situations, everything.

Doing what I am supposed to do.

Getting it right.

I am these things, though I do not relish admitting this to you (or to myself).

I remember the first time Michelle invited me to come to my mat to feel. Not to feel good. Not to feel better. Not to feel happy. Just – to – feel. It was novel: no goal, no place to be, no right answer, just the messiness of inviting myself to be open to whatever was there and being with it.

Yuck.

Can’t we just put a bandaid on it and make it better,” my brain screams.  “If we did it this way (aka, my way) I’m certain we would have a better result,” I shout out. “This isn’t how it was supposed to be,” I’m thinking. But this is simply how things are and no amount of pushing, squeezing, gripping, striving, or doing will change that. As they say, “it is what it is.”

These tendencies manifest themselves physically – clenched jaw, grinding teeth, gripping buttocks, tension in my neck. They also manifest in other ways – trying to steer a group towards a particular outcome, getting passive and quiet when I don’t know an answer, strategically placing myself in situations where I know that I will get it right.

On the mat.

Of course, these same tendencies, habits, ways of being, are present on my petri dish of a yoga mat.

I feel it in Trikonasana – feet in alignment, knees not locked, tilt deep into the hip crease, strong through the core, feel the twist in the torso, keep your head on, put your arm up. I methodically and precisely walk myself through these elements to put my body into the pose. (The pose from The Book, of course.) It looks good, people tell me. They “ohh and ahh” admiring my strength or flexibility and I get to feel awesome – I’m “doing” yoga, I tell myself.

But yoga is not about doing, it is about feeling.

And when I am clinging desperately to a sense of control, I am not open to feeling. When I am focused on getting it right, I am not rubbing up on my boundaries because that could mean getting something wrong. When I am trying to manage people or situations, I miss out on the opportunity to be present with what is actually happening in that moment.

So, this is me, recommitting to an old intention: to come to my mat to feel. I can only imagine what I will discover…

12 comments

  1. Wow. I love that you shared this. Thank you. ~Kate

    1. Thanks Buddy. It wasn’t an easy one to share, but it was the real deal. And you know what, it’s even gotten to the point where I don’t feel queasy every time I hit the “publish” button on these things. Who would have thought… :)

  2. “And when I am clinging desperately to a sense of control, I am not open to feeling”…This is honest and true and appreciated. Sometimes feeling is all we have and it is enough. Sometimes doing is just not in the cards and that is ok. xoxo

    1. Thanks Gina- for reading, your comment, your friendship… all of it. xo

  3. Sometimes – read: most times – I feel people have a way of saying something much better than I ever could…this is one of those times. Thank you for sharing and congratulations on feeling not so vulnerable when publishing a post. I, too, have to work on just feeling on and off the mat. Thanks again for your words!

    1. I find so much solace in knowing that I’m not in this alone — if I’m feeling something, it’s likely that at least some other people have felt it too (which is ultimately why pushing the “publish” button has gotten exponentially easier). So thank you for this comment and for sharing that this post resonates in your own life … it means a lot. xo

  4. I really relate to this post! Always right (or completely silent). I didnt know that about you…it’s really comforting that we have this similarity (because I admire you and think you’re great!). Thanks for the inspiration/reminder to go to my mat to just feel too.

    1. Thanks Laura, I feel entirely the same about you! (admire + great)

      And I’m decent at the smoke and mirrors to hide this part of myself (such as by preemptively talking in class so the teacher doesn’t call on me when I might not know the answer), but now that you know it’s there, I suspect you’ll see it in me more……. Want to see me *really* freak out? Try to make me to play a game that requires being on the spot and talking/acting/singing/etc (charades, cranium, taboo, catch phrase, that sort of thing) …….. it’s not pretty!

  5. Phew! Reading this pushed some of my buttons, so I can only imagine writing it.

    “These tendencies manifest themselves physically – clenched jaw, grinding teeth, gripping buttocks, tension in my neck. They also manifest in other ways – trying to steer a group towards a particular outcome…” Totally guilty!

    But then, we’re all there, if not in one way than another…

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Joshua. Yes, definitely not a post I relished sharing, but I figured… I made a commitment (to myself) to share the real deal, and this is it. =)

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