Lesson In Compassion
Published on July 23, 2008
Tonight I went to Yoga class. First time going back to my school in exactly a month. In the studio room next to me, Yogis got all sweaty and hot practicing Vinyasa, while I laid on the floor becoming reacquainted with my body through a Gentle Yoga class. It felt wonderful to be back. The bamboo floor, the closet full of props–grey wool blankets and purple foam blocks, the new agey music playing as you walk in. My senses were telling me I’m home again. But it’s not the studio I miss, it’s the practice- the journey inward–it’s being in a room with others that feel the same way. It’s the chanting, and the long om we say at the end. It’s being a part of a community of souls searching for the same thing. It’s friends and welcoming hugs.
As I laid on my mat waiting for the teacher to begin I thought that today marks a month that I have been honored with my injury. Can you believe that? Such a silly statement to think. It just rolled into my mind like a bright parade. But I think honored is the best way to express my gratitude for where I am now.
I now have the opportunity to start Yoga from the very beginning. My injury has invited me to learn each and every pose anew again and to see just exactly where my edge is. A new canvas–a blank page–a new chapter.
Humble is another word I associate with the honor of this injury. How humbling it is to not touch your feet in a seated forward fold. How humbling to hover above the Earth, when only a month ago my torso used to comfortably rest on the floor right next to my big ego. But now I am gaining a better understanding of my body. When I raised my leg to reach the sky, I felt how each muscle connects to the next. As I slowly rolled my ankle, I felt how each degree affected my entire position. When I lowered my leg, and it met the ground, I felt my prana–my energy flow freely upward through my body.
Gently the teacher moved us through the poses. Our bodies always solidly connected to the Earth. The music was soft and the room at a comfortable temperature. The environment mindfully crafted for a deep inward journey where every detail could be explored. Tonight there were poses I struggled to make fit the image I possessed in my mind. I silented my ego with my breath, and then the word “compassion” entered my thoughts in neon.
How easy it is to have compassion for another. When the person next to us struggles in life we offer our compassion selfishly and abundantly. But how quickly we hold back from pouring out sincere compassion to ourselves. I don’t mean pity. We all do that without hesitation from time to time. But that is just wasted energy. I mean true compassion for our own self. Compassion that we are human, and have things in our life we struggle with. Compassion that we are learning and yes, sometimes make mistakes. Compassion that we get tired and need to ask for help. Compassion when we don’t meet the standards we hold so high in our minds.
I left Yoga tonight feeling a million times better physically. Once again, Yoga has offered her sweet medicine to my body. But I left Yoga tonight wrapped in a blanket of compassion. I held my leg in my arms tonight, I forgave myself for being so angry at it. I felt compassion for my human existence–for how our bodies sometimes break down, for my struggle with my ego, for the way I can be so hard on myself. I learned a great lesson. How is it possible to ever truly be compassionate with the world, when we are unable to express compassion to our selves?
Like I said, I am honored to have experienced a torn hamstring. Honored with such an injury. For now, I can fully understand what it means to have compassion.
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