Saturday, May 21, 2011

Shadows. Yoga. Narcissists. Gold. Suddenly, it got all ephemeral.

I've been having such rockstar classes lately. I just love it.

Yogis joke about the yoga truck. Some days you get hit by the yoga truck, some days you ride it. Dare I say that today I kinda felt like I was driving the yoga truck, as if I were a unionized trucker schlepping goods across the state in record time. I'm gonna allow myself this little dip into narcissistic thinking 'cause, well... it's rare for me to do so. Typically, my thought turns toward what is wrong with my practice, behavior, teaching, grading system, etc, and when I'm momentarily released from it, dammit, I'm just gonna wallow.

 I mulled over the rockstar class, as I typically do with every class (except for the nightmare classes that threaten to haunt my dreams). Yes, my teachers are pretty freakin' great. Yes, I'm almost done with grading. Yes, I'm about to take an amazing journey to Latin America. But none of those things really get at why periods in our yoga practice are just better than others.

I am certainly not qualified to answer that question, but I've noticed that my practice "goes downhill" in the middle of the semester and revs back up again once the finish line is in sight. That cause and effect is obvious. But what's behind it? I tend to start getting very un-narcissist about myself halfway through the semester. Spirits flag in class, students start dropping, my grading load triples, and I figure pretty much everything crappy in the universe is my fault. Then, yoga becomes one more place to practice counting the reasons why I suck. It's almost like I have this idea that because things are "not going well," yoga should reflect that. Probably, the opposite should happen. I'm strong, I'm remarkably flexible, and dammit, I've been doing the same freakin' 26 postures for two years without a break, to say nothing of the years of other types of yoga I've done before.

This is an oft-quoted passage from Jungian analyst Robert A. Johnson that might explain things:

"Curiously, people resist the noble aspects of their shadow more strenuously than they hide the dark sides. To draw the skeletons out of the closet is relatively easy, but to own the gold in the shadow is terrifying. It is more disrupting to find that you have a profound nobility of character than to find out you are a bum. Of course you are both; but one does not discover these two elements at the same time. The gold is related to our higher calling, and this can be hard to accept at certain stages of life. Ignoring the gold can be as damaging as ignoring the dark side of the psyche, and some people may suffer a severe shock or illness before they learn how to let the gold out."

Wow. So much there. The gold metaphor doesn't really work for me personally, but the concept of being frightened by what I'm good at really resonates. Glad I'm not the only one on that. Thanks, Jungian analyst guy, for making me feel a little less alone there.

I think yoga gives us the perfect opportunity to see "these two elements" so clearly. When I'm in class, I'm so aware of my body and thoughts. The criticism of self and other, as well as the pride I feel for myself and the other, are observable. So, I really feel those "shadow" classes and those "gold" classes.

No idea if I'm making sense here. No idea at all. Did it all get ephemeral? I'm sorry.


L said...

oh lady, that made so much sense it was like you dug the skeletons out of MY closet. how long have you been hanging out up there? can i take you with me in my pocket?

awesome post, seriously. no need for apologies at all :)

Dorothy said...

Dude. For some reason it's always easier to find fault with ourselves because we're taught that seeing the good in ourselves is arrogance (which is bad), but that's crap. And it's also not narcissistic to say, "hey, I'm good at this!" We need to find new definitions of being positive. No, don't talk incessantly about how wonderful you are (not that you're doing that ^__^), but acknowledging to yourself that you have lots of good stuff and you rock the fucking mat sometimes is completely necessary. Do it. Do it a lot.

Catherine said...

Own it!!! (If not the gold, well, it should be something sparkly and pretty. Like your soul!)

Yolk E said...

Hahaha, Catherine. I don't like gold, but I do like silver. Also metallic balloons! :-)

Agreed, Dorothy. I'm also with you on the use of "Dude" as pre-sentence punctuation.

xoxo Skeleton buddy!