Here’s a lovely sentiment from my 15th day of yoga readings from Meditations from the Mat (Day 199):
“When we see our self as the center and separate from everything else, we have to continuously protect and guard this self.” – Zen master Dennis Genpo Merzel
I get two things out of this:
- A very “man is not an island” or, on the other hand, “it takes an army” kind of sentiment. We can’t get through this life alone and if we try, we’ll find ourselves constantly guarded, constantly fighting, always working to uphold our isolated self.
- A realization that yoga has given me the freedom to let down my guard and just trust–people, myself, my body–both inside the studio and out. I don’t have to waste all my energy continuously guarding and protecting myself because I believe firmly that yoga does that for me. Every single day.
I see this transition towards trust in all kinds of ways–letting a stranger touch my filthy sweaty body to move me deeper into a pose, letting my head fall all the way back in camel, wheel, etc. and knowing it won’t fall off, letting my eyes move upward in tree pose and eventually closing them knowing that even if I do fall, it’s not that far to the ground.
Rolf Gates (the author) moves in a different direction with this excerpt, explaining this:
“One of the easiest ways for me to convince a new, athletic student that there’s something to yoga is to place her in class behind someone twenty years older than she is. Forty minutes later, the new athlete will be seated on the floor, exhausted, watching a woman old enough to be her mother breezing through her practice… The experienced student practices with an ever increasing level of surrender. None of her energies are spent upholding or defending her sense of self.”
I love that.