A Piece of Honesty

downward dog abstractI dabbled in Yoga this summer, making it my project, hoping I would be comfortable enough to continue some kind of Yoga practice when I returned to what I call normalcy and the South Florida heat and humidity. Today I made it happen.

I went to a Yoga class alone; I didn’t have a mat (I left mine in NC but you could rent one – interesting dichotomy between a small town where they were free for the borrowing and suburban sprawl Palm Beach County. I’m not judging just observing.)   I was the only man and probably one of the few over 60 in the group. I was also the tallest, the heaviest and the worst dressed – do they have Lulu Lemon for men?

We began on our backs learning how to inhale and exhale and find our breath as the instructor talked about vulnerability. My monkey mind said, “don’t talk to me about being vulnerable; here I am exposing to the world what a fraud I am. You think you know “downward dog”, you don’t know ________.” It was hard and it was good and I am surprised how heavily I perspired. I was grateful when the 75 minutes were up and we returned to our backs in what I remember being called “corpse pose” but had a different name this morning.

Besides some muscles speaking to me about what I have just done to them, I took away an appreciation of how hard you can work in slow motion. This was called a slow flow class and that’s what we did (I did more of the slow and less of the flow, but there is always next time.) Everything doesn’t have to be fast or pumped up. You can strengthen yourself both physically and spiritually gradually and incrementally.

But I really took away a willingness to reflect introspectively on my disposition to be vulnerable and I mean by that my sense of comfort in being open about my weaknesses, my doubts, my faults and failings. It is that time of year in the Jewish calendar. The Hebrew month of Elul leading up to the New Year is our prep time for new beginnings, clean slates, forgiveness and forgiving others and ourselves.

So here’s a piece of honesty. I’m not good at not being good at what I do. I need a lot of acceptance. I need validation from outside sources. I need to be praised and affirmed probably a little too much. I know this because at the end of the class, when the instructor and I were alone, I asked her: How’d I do? I asked it in the guise of what classes do you think would be beneficial to me, but I knew I needed her approval and being told: you’re good enough.

I wonder who or what did this to me? I wonder if this feeling of not being worthy is just built in to the human psyche. I know what my Elul work is this time around. It is finding the good; affirming the competent; believing in myself and loving the pieces that are still to be polished and refined knowing they are all good and isn’t it great I am not done?

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13 thoughts on “A Piece of Honesty

  1. Another winner! But this one could have been me writing (although not nearly as eloquent as you!) I too, am not good at being not good at something…have worked on this to no avail, I’ll keep working on working it! Meanwhile, up here in ct it’s only 58 brisk degrees out! I found a red tinged oak leaf on my patio this am, signaling the beginnings of fall, and thought of your essay from years back! Thanks for your words! See you all very soon!
    KL

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  2. Awesome! There is Lululemon for men but you don’t need it. One of the things you learn in yoga is the only person you are competing with is you. You never know how many years the person on the next mat has been practicing or who went out partying the night before or who is recovering from illness. Be compassionate to yourself and the rest of the class. See where it takes you.

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  3. Weaknesses, doubts, faults, failings? Introspection is hard. It appears that you have found a common thread amongst all of us. I love the way that you are able to consistently do that. You make me feel that I am not alone. Thankyou.
    Mark

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  4. You are welcome to come to the Gentle Yoga class with me and several temple members. There are other men and most of us are older and not very experienced And no one cares what the men wear. Everyone feels welcome. Wed and/or Thursday AM.

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