"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Holding Ground

Less late than usual, she slipped into the room right behind the teacher. There were a dozen or so of us spread around the room, and the back of the room was almost empty. I was a little left of center, in the middle row – my friend and counselor, Pat, on one side, lots of open space on the other. We stood to begin the breathing exercises while Late Woman, after a quick survey of the room, put herself exactly between Pat and me.

I did a quick inner check to see if I'd be spending class fighting internal drama dragons, and was pleased to discover a light and laughing calmness at my center. Grateful for the reprieve from my shadow self, I focused on my forehead in the mirror and entered into the flow. Then during the third warmup pose I discovered myself far to the right of my mat – crowding Late Woman's space. Hmmm. Maybe not so centered after all.

As I pondered how I'd gotten myself there,  a question rolled through my head, like a banner flying behind an airplane, "How would you handle this if you liked her?"

My answer, "I'd smile at her, we'd each adjust our position a little, then I'd forget she was there."

But I don't like her. Besides she's careful to not make eye contact with anyone, including the teachers. And I'm done moving to make room for her. So that left me with one option. I decided to practice as though she wasn't Late Woman, but Diana, another regular in the studio I might not want to be friends with but who shares this desire for healing with me. I did move myself back to the center of my mat where I belonged, but beyond that did the poses as though I had all the space I had created for myself before class started.

I did sort of forget about her for a while. Until we came to the first pose that requires straddling our mats with our arms outstretched. I considered the possibility that when I extended my arms, my right arm might run into her extended left arm, and decided not to worry about it. I did do a small inner check to make sure the part of me that had decided to crowd her earlier didn't decide now that smacking her "accidentally" would be a good idea. I practiced as though she wasn't there.

And she moved back. At first she just stepped farther back on her mat, but then she pulled her mat back – twice, far enough that we would be out of each other's way for the rest of class. She was aware she was too close, and adjusted herself.

I didn't have to be mad, or make a big deal, or even say anything. I just had to stay focused on taking care of myself, which in this case included not giving way. I don't know what I would have done if we'd actually made contact. I hope I would have smiled at her and kept going. There's a good chance I'll get to find out before the Late Woman lessons are over.

Picture from Flickr


Anonymous said...

Funny how things work out, even things we stress about. Now if I could only take my own advice:)

Carrie Wilson Link said...

A really good chance.

I love the, "What would I do if I liked her?" question!

Suzy said...

My guess is that she was "sent" to you to learn lessons.

And who better?

Love you


M said...

These stories just keep making me laugh...I know because I "know" that person. Your honesty about your inner feelings (and your recognition of them) make me smile. Keep on growing!!


Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I love that question too. I'll try to remember that in the future.

Jessica Nelson said...

Interesting post. Sounds like you handled things well, and maybe she's not so disagreeable after all? :-)
Or maybe she is, but at least she moved. *grin*

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Perhaps that is what it took to make her aware of space. Maybe she hadn't realized it before. I'm thinking she has now.

We never know how others think - or don't think.

I'm still so jealous of your dedication. Determination - in spite of what steps into your route.

Pam said...

"...had to stay focused on taking care of myself..in this case not giving way". I am learning this myself lately Deb. Being too flexible all my life, I am learning to be more firm in my ability to stand my ground.The yin and the yang. While encouraging flexibility in our practices,we operate from a firm base, and it ultimately helps our resolve.Good work!

fullsoulahead.com said...

Such good work you are doing at yoga!

Wanda said...

Were you doing warrior by any chance? Sounds like you did the pose perfectly.

She Writes said...

Why do feel guilty for holding our own space sometimes? Well done!

Lorna said...

So much in this post speaks to me, volumes in fact. Love how you presented this in story form...at first I thought I was reading fiction! You handled Late Woman beautifully, claiming your own space while helping her become more aware of hers. Gently done, firmly done, with awareness (checking in with yourself to gauge your intentions) that's impressive. Needed to be shown this today. Thanks Deb! Also, love the new format :)

patti said...

You're hitting some nerves with these posts.

Bernie said...

I don't know anything about yoga, but this sounds like a universal truth that everyone could learn. I think I got the right conclusion -- that one should just stick to what they know is true and not worry about anyone else's reactions?

Anyhow, I also enjoyed the format. Thanks for all the visits to my blog.I'd like to know more about yoga.

Ask Me Anything said...

I am loving the saga of Late Woman.

Amber said...

Maybe she also has lessons in this class.


Jerri said...

Oh, my. It's amazing how often holding ground is the answer to our internal questions.

I'm hoping to learn this from you and Late Woman.