I am on the phone with a local radio host for an interview about yoga and wellness for entrepreneurs. She tells me she always prays before the show to center herself, so I am silent as she thanks the almighty for the opportunity to help people, humbly asking that others be moved toward healing. Finally she settles on me, asking blessings for my mission, my business and me personally. I am moved by this kindness and my eyes fill with tears. When she starts the show she is clear and confident, and I compose myself as she introduces me like I am a person worth listening to. I speak with authority, humor and compassion. I light up encouraging unknown people to start where they are and care for themselves. Near the end of the show she asks me about self-improvement and I offer a gentle correction; I don’t want us to see ourselves as flawed beings in need of fixing. I insist, full of conviction, that instead we are perfect beings meant to gently unwind the entanglements that hide our divine light. That wasn’t in our pre-show notes, but I feel myself coming alive as I say it.
Later I lie on the floor before my class at the VA. One of my students speaks back to me during opening breath work. I’ve asked them to consider what is coming up in their awareness and she wants me to know about it. I can feel another student getting irritated with this break in decorum, accustomed to the expectation that I alone will speak. I am calm, attentive, and wait while she talks about noting the weather. I validate her points quietly–“You’re noticing that, good.” “I understand.” “That’s right.” When she finishes speaking, I move on and we move together, mobilizing our joints and practicing interoception.
Near the end of class we are laying on our bellies and I’m intuitively sure one of my students is feeling impatient about all this gentle movement. He, too, is sometimes beautifully childlike in seeking assurance that he is seen and cared for. I read in the frustration I’m picking up the same impatience I wrestle with myself in recent weeks while opportunities to accomplish things scream by as my anxiety and fear force me to perform triage. I feel my own impatience with being uncomfortable echoed in my perception of my student. I want everything to be better right now and I resent that it is not. I am sick of emergency self-care.
I lift my head slightly from my hands so they can hear me speak and offer slowly, deliberately; “If you’re concerned all this lying here is self-indulgent, I’d like you to understand that we all deeply need and deserve for someone to be kind to us. Sometimes nobody else will do it. Can we be the ones giving kindness to ourselves?”
I hear a few sighs of recognition and John fully makes eye contact, raising a brow at me. I mutter just loudly enough for him to hear it, “Gotta remind myself that shit too, like all the time.”
He smiles and puts his head down. After class he walks me to my car and implores me to heed my own good advice.
“I’m trying, John.”