Tuesday, September 27, 2011

shifting into confidence (OM)

i am pretty confident in most areas of my life. i don't doubt my decisions, i think everyone should trust my instincts, and i don't mind sharing my opinions. i'm confident in my work, my personal life, my relationships, my fitness teaching, and my yoga. and i thought i was confident in my yoga teaching... until i started to reflect on a few instances over the past few months.

1. friends complimenting me on my teaching and/or cues for yoga: after receiving amazing compliments from close friends, on different occasions, i found myself smiling, thanking them, and truly appreciating the compliments. but, then, after each instance, i would think to myself that those friends weren't expert yogis, or that they didn't know what was "supposed" to be cued, and i began to doubt the accuracy of the compliments.

2. the invitation to teach at an internationally attended yoga conference: after being invited to teach both a workshop and a class at the sydney evolve fest, i felt elated, momentarily. then i thought OMIGOD! WHY ARE THEY LETTING ME TEACH THERE?! i thought for sure they must have been desperate for teachers and only allowed me to teach because they had way too many spots. which turned out not to be true... but that didn't really affect my perception of the invitation.

3. the subsequent "life-changing" comments from people at the workshop: after leading a yoga/art mind-body workshop i developed, i had people coming up to me telling me about the amazing experiences they had felt: how they had realized things they never thought possible; how they heard things from me they had never allowed themselves to hear before. i smiled, i blushed, i felt humbled. and then i left and thought, surely that life-altering experience they had was a result of something else that recently happened; they were only attributing it to me.

all of these smaller reflections began to add up, especially in combination with the realization of #4 yesterday.

4. i have never taught a class an OM (spelled "aum" in sanskrit, but referred to here in its americanized spelling, cap-locked for emphasis). i suppose i have never been a big OM-er. don't get my wrong, i like my OMs. i like doing them in classes, but i really love being in the middle of them, i love the feeling of reverberation through my heart and through my body from the community of voices contributing to my own. i've just never felt comfortable teaching them. first of all, i have a terrrrrible singing voice. it's fine among the others... but as the one others might "listen" to? unh-uh. no way, forget it! oh, and i teach at gyms! they don't expect it; it might turn them off; they may never try another yoga class if i get all hippy-dippy on them!

AHEM, excuses.

after realizing that, yes, these truly were excuses, i thought: WOAH. and when taken with those other examples!?! --> i'm not as confident in my yoga teaching as i pretend to be! and then i began to meditate on why i wasn't teaching the OM in my yoga classes. like, the real reason--not the excuses i had spouted to co-teachers, fiends, and students. why was i letting myself get away with this for so long? was i really that shy about singing a single word? was i really that worried about the reactions from my class--the people that come week after week to take a class with me? was i really so scared that i couldn't pull it off?

well, i think the real reason was because moving from intention to action is scary! and even though i had intended to introduce an OM into my regular classes several times over the past couple of years, i had never actually done it. i told myself things like, "oh, there were 4 new people today--way too many to start a new part of our practice" or "i had a bad day at work, i should wait for a day i feel really shiny!" yes, shiny. these are the things i tell myself.

but something happened yesterday. i shifted. the mini revelation, fueled by the smaller instances of awareness, gave me the courage i needed to shift.

i walked into my class last night and began in a similar manner as i normally do. we were on the floor in suptaBK. we moved our arms with our breath. we rocked up to sitting. and then, i surprised the class. i told them tonight was the night we started our class with three OMs. i was honest: i told them i thought it was important for us to begin together, in the same place, on the same note; to be able to feel and experience the community of the class. and i told them i had been nervous to start doing it in my classes, but that it was TIME.

something amazing happened. they giggled with me. they didn't laugh at me. and then they OMed with me--anusara style--quietly, in order to make one voice. to hear one voice. to be one voice.

and it was beautiful.

...and then we moved on. we also closed with an OM, but by then i wasn't scared at all. i had done it! nothing bad had happened! i felt silly for doubting myself and i felt silly for doubting my students. and, when it was all over, i felt better about my class than i could have believed was possible, just because of an OM.

it's only the sound of everything. what'd i expect, really?

but reflecting back on it, a day later, i know it was hard. developing the strength to trust myself in this instance; finding the courage; shifting; moving from intention to action... it was all insanely difficult. but we all have these times, these experiences of contraction. we feel an instant "no" before we can attempt to say "yes." we decide we can't do something for a non-reason.

but now i know. i can do it. YOU can do it. nothing is really as hard as we make it out to be. start from the yes. start from the beginning. start from the OM.

and see where it takes you.

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