Liberate your heart

“That which is threatening to the ego is liberating to the heart.”

Yup, pretty much. That’s exactly how I felt in a recent yoga class–ego threatened. Big time.

But not the ego as in, my giant big-head and overinflated confidence. Rather, I mean ego as in, the part of myself that I’m convinced makes up me. Or, the part of myself that other people have tried to tell me I’m made of. You know, the part of myself that is completely convinced that I am inadequate? Not enough. Not good enough. Insane. Unlikeable. Stupid.

My perfectionism monster roared today. Big time. Spewing flames and stomping around all over the rest of me. On a rampage of destruction.

And that word, perfectionism, UGH! I hate it! What does it even mean in the first place? It’s just a concept, really, a concept that doesn’t truly exist and that’s constantly changing all the time, depending on who you talk to and when you talk to them. What kind of sick standard is it to hold ourselves to perfectionism, when perfect isn’t even an identifiable goal that exists?!

For whatever reason though, my body and mind like to try and convince me sometimes that “perfect” is still attainable, if only I push myself a little harder. In a recent yoga class, the ballerina inside me that constantly critiqued and berated myself was chattering critical comments non-stop.

Be perfect. Get it right. Understand everything the teacher says. Why can’t you do this? You suck!

In last weekend’s yoga training, I had a crushing sensation that after ten years of practice, 212 hours of training and multiple injuries, recoveries and working in a doctor’s office and a college degree, that I know absolutely nothing.

In fact, I know less than I even thought I knew. That realization crushed me. Or crushed my know-it-all, Hermione-nerd-girl, ego I should say. I felt the weight of this realization very strongly.

To all of you considering a yoga training out there, let me first say this.

Yoga trainings are HARD.

Not necessarily just intellectually. Or just physically. Or just emotionally. But all of the above sometimes.

At least they are for me. Each training forces me to confront my darkest demons. The parts of myself that I try to run away from and hide from behind the clothes racks in the giant store that are the hustle and bustle of every day life.

They make me confront my darkest demons. And guess what? Sometimes I just DON’T want to freaking see those guys!

The knowledge itself is beautiful. Stunning. I stand in awe of the depth of it and the dedication to seeking it on the part of both the teachers and my fellow students. The body is intricate, nuanced, stunning in the myriad ways it can compensate for itself so that every “weakness” is actually a mask to hide the million other strengths that lay behind it.

“That which is threatening to the ego is liberating to the heart.”

That quote is what I keep trying to remember as I repeatedly get my emotional ass (and sometimes my physical ass) handed to me in class each week.

To me, each yoga training I do feels like I’m a pot of water and I’m on simmer. It gets a little hot, a little uncomfortable, sometimes my blood literally boils. But it’s necessary to reach those temperatures so you can cook what you’re trying to make. The life practice of yoga is the same. You have to get a little uncomfortable, get real up close and uncomfortably personal with your emotions, in order to turn yourself into something you really want to be. In order to cook yourself, if that makes sense.

The real question is, how can I stay with these emotions, these experiences, on slow boil but not let them overwhelm (or overcook!) me?

That’s where the practice really begins.

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