I teach about 12 classes a week….sometimes more, sometimes fewer. Several of the classes are classes that I substitute for other teachers. When walking into someone else’s class to teach someone else’s students, I always try to offer a space where the students can keep an open mind, and I often verbally invite the students to keep an open mind. While my class might be different that the teacher who is usually here, you might still learn something new and have a lot of fun in the process.
Last week, I found myself in this huge space of really needing a good class from one of my favorite teachers. In general, I had gone to his class on a different day and was a little bummed when I looked at the schedule 5 minutes before I was walking out the door to find that I had not only messed up the time for the class I wanted to go to, but in addition, there was a sub teaching for the regular teacher in that time slot. I decided that since it was my only opportunity to practice for the day that I would go anyway and experience this sub.
We have all been there, walking into a class with a bucket load of expectations and a desire for a certain experience. I get it. I have experienced it and I have seen students in this space when I am filling in for someone else. So it is always disappointing when things don’t start the way you “expected.” But knowing that there is always something to be learned, I just moved into my breath to release my expectations. Sometimes easier said than done.
Observing this process internally was really the most interesting thing! So I sat there and felt what was happening within me. Agitation, lack of focus, uneven balance, frustration, physical pain, wandering mind…and I mean wandering mind….”I keep forgetting to pick up my dry cleaning, I am starving, what am I gonna eat, I really need a pedicure, oh shoot I forgot to send that email.” The time came- to set an intention. I felt like I was just hanging on so I choose to stay with the idea of “keeping an open mind to the experience.”
Throughout the process of the 90 minutes of advanced asana, meditation and rest, I continually felt thing rising up within me and internal judgments about the process- she is counting too fast, she is adjusting me on my injured side- it doesn’t move that way, stop touching me- I am a teacher, I know what I am doing!!!…and the list goes on. At some point, I surrendered. Surrendered to the benefits of practicing with someone new and in that moment I was able to take in what she was saying…ok so maybe I can work on squaring my hips a little more in pyramid stretch and maybe the core strengthening that is agitating me is really agitating me because my core needs to be strengthened! Maybe? Most Certainly! But most importantly, there was something inside me that was facing the biggest challenge. It was probably a combination of expectations, disappointment, my external life outside of the room and my critical mind and judgments about where I was supposed to be.
When I finally surrendered, it all shifted. You know, she is a good teacher and although she wasn’t the same as the person I was hoping to practice, I did learn something new. Something new about myself and something new in my practice. Net net, we all need to stay open about our experiences. When we come into any situation with expectations, our past, our feelings, the true beauty of what is in front of us can be masked by our expectations, what we tell ourselves, what we “hear” and what we see. There is always a lesson and something beautiful, a tiny nugget, or maybe just a bud, like a lotus waiting to unfold.
See you soon in class!