I was fortunate to have teachers who stressed that progress in your yoga practice is not about perfection of poses but how skillful you become in your everyday actions and interactions. I now gauge how well my practice is working by how I am being in my relationships, duties and responsibilities. Am I becoming the person I want to be?
I can say with some confidence that I've developed some skill. I can also safely say I've got a long way to go. The ultimate test of my progress is spending a week at home with family for the holidays. This is the place where I most want to be, the place I long for when I'm far away and the place that most challenges me because it feels as if simultaneously nothing and everything has changed. It never fails I leave and spend two days replaying scenarios and conversation where I wish I would have had more skill. "Could I have said that differently? This is what I meant, was there a better way to convey it? Was there a more skillful way to react? Will I ever go home and not instantly revert to my 16 year old self?”
Whenever we are faced with a situation we wished had gone differently there’s a lot of room for condemnation, critique and judgement. There is also an opportunity to practice forgiveness. This too requires some skill; allowing ourselves to be learners in this lifetime, forgiving ourselves for the human experience. What I happily realized this time around was that the falling off can be a launching pad to dive deeper into our practice with more enthusiasm. The first day back I got to attend a meditation class I have been taking. Our teacher Banni Bunting shared this quote by Sharon Salzberg.
“If we can stand inside our pain awhile and wait, over time we may come to also see it as a way into the deepest part of ourselves and then back into the world, a vehicle for new insight into who we are and how much we need care for ourselves and each other. The transformation I was seeking wasn’t to be found in what happened to this pain, it would be found in what happened within me in relationship to it. It would be found in opening rather than closing down, in compassion for myself rather than contempt.”
How beautiful and idea to stand inside our our pain, to tolerate our own discomfort for a moment and use it as a vehicle for new insight into who we are. As we understand ourselves we understand each other. As we love ourselves we begin to love each other. We start to trust that these moments are where the greatest opportunity for growth live.