It takes a village to yoga. We help each other see ourselves honestly and with clarity. We keep each other balanced on the mat and accountable off the mat. We get courage when we see the bravery of others and take baby steps ourselves. Caroline does this for me in her blog post “Ebb & Flow.”
Caroline, a friend and longtime Just B Yoga practitioner, posted a vulnerable and thought-provoking blog post about control, acceptance, and… although she might not have said so…. yoga. It ended up helping me deepen my own yoga practice. It’s holding me accountable.
Read: Ebb & Flow
She shares about her relationship with relationships and wishing to control them in order to feel safe and protected.
“If someone learns self protection early, if they have not been able to consistently depend on even their caretakers for protection or the ability to meet their needs they have deeply ingrained the idea that survival means minimizing risk. Which means maximizing control. “
This is natural in all of us. But we are not all able to witness ourselves and our behavior, much less share openly about what we see.
I resonate so much with the journey of letting go of people we love in order to protect ourselves. Letting go was my super power for decades. But it isn’t a skill that helps me develop lasting relationships. Kinda hard to have friends when you keep ejecting them.
Caroline declared our friendship to me. She has openly expressed when she needs time together. She openly expresses when she doesn’t have capacity for connection deeper than a text or a drive-by drop-off of snacks.
Caroline has modeled how to develop friendships based on expressing needs and limitations. I’ve appreciated that. I needed that.
So of course we were friends! We were opposite poles of one another.
But where she arrives in her blog is about going with the flow and finding the middle. Life and changes in life pushed the boundaries of what she could control.
“Coming to terms with the fact that you will never get a chance to explain yourself. Or that even if you did the outcome would still be the same. Coming to terms with releasing expectations. Coming to terms with new needs you never knew you had. Coming to terms with deep grief. This is complicated internal work. Work I have never been good at. Worthy work. Necessary work. Hard work.”
Recognizing our limitations with others – we cannot control their actions or their thoughts or even what they think of our actions and intentions – is sobering. It often unleashes its own set of emotions to navigate – or want to control.
I feel like my next main tool in my box isn’t control but avoidance. I can hide like a champ. There again, we are yin and yang, Caroline and I. Clinging or hiding and letting go completely.
The middle – going with the ebb and flow of life – is the balance she describes she’s trying out for size now.
In yoga we call this middle equilibrium sattva. It’s a description of internal states. Sattva is in the middle between rajas and tamas. Rajas is forceful, determined, active, exciteable energy. Tamas is inert or lethargic, depressed energy. These states express themselves in our bodies, our actions, our words and our overall spirit.
We can feel these in our bodies in asana (pose) practice in the form of tension or blockages or burning (rajas), or instability, softness, lack of engagement or dull energy overall. We can feel this in our attempts to meditate and we encounter distraction, frustration or we fall asleep or give up.
A part of the journey of yoga is seeking to connect with a peaceful balanced state in body, mind and spirit – sattva – going with the flow without being sent into extremes in the spectrum. We seek to recognize and accept the truth of moment, whether it’s something we like or don’t like.
I’m not saying Caroline is talking about her yoga practice here, or that her realization is due to her practice.
I’m saying her blog post made me reflect on this aspect of my own practice and it helped me become more open about the obstacles in my own journey off the mat.
Hiding and avoiding and hoping folks will figure out how I feel isn’t going to get me any closer to healthy and meaningful relationship. It’s an obstacle to an ease and more peaceful state of being in my life.
I’ve got to accept change and still express myself and not self-soothe or numb with TV or solitary activities. I get to practice speaking up about my needs rather than staying silent and figuring things out on my own.
Saying what’s hard about the journey, sharing it, letting others see it – wow, that’s powerful stuff. It’s a practice of authenticity – raw and vulnerable. It’s uncomfortable and messy. And it’s beautiful because it’s the truth.
The third yoga Sutra, “then the seer sees themselves more clearly.”
I like to say that sutra means I get to be at peace with the truth.
And I need community (sangha) to do it. Thanks Caroline.