I am taking a new yoga class this term, and today was my second class with my new instructor. She is really strong in her verbal cues as she leads us through the flow of our practice. In class this morning, she reminded us several times during our first few poses that we should take the poses slowly and begin to wake up our muscles, to let them know we would be using them more soon. As we held our poses, she reminded us to elongate on our inhale breaths, and to settle more deeply into the pose on our exhales. I felt the transformation within each pose. I began each pose stiffly and awkwardly, but by following her gentle, confident instruction, I found increasing comfort and strength in every pose, breath by breath. As I returned home, her words have stayed with me.
Just as in my poses this morning, I have to let myself ease into my creative practice today, tomorrow, forever. A gentle beginning, a warming up of muscles, is not defeat. I tend to think that if I can not go right in swinging, I am somehow failing myself, falling short of my own capability. I want my energy and drive to be operating at 100% capacity all of the time. But I have been experiencing the trial and error of this approach in these last few weeks. My expectations have pushed me harder in moments, but have also made me fall harder when I cannot seem to achieve them. Warming up to the poses this morning did not let us off the hook; the harder poses came later in our practice and they were still challenging. Throughout our one and a half hour class, we still had to focus completely, to concentrate our energy and reach as hard as we could into those challenging poses. And afterward, we gently wound the poses back down, to restore ourselves and our bodies, in preparation for our return to our varied days and lives outside the studio.
I am learning to accept that pursuing my creative dreams might sometimes mean "feeling my way" through lots of fear and insecurity, just as I felt my way into my poses this morning. Or even feeling my way through different warm-up poses. One day, it might be music that opens up my practice, and another day it might be a book, or a walk, or a conversation with a friend. Or it might just be a few moments spent pondering a lovely vase of flowers, and my gratitude for this gift of beauty in my life. Perhaps allowing myself to enter one stage first, and then another, until the way becomes clearer, is the only way to really achieve anything at all. It is like having to choose a direction at a fork in a dark tunnel, without any clue where it might lead. All you have to hold on to is the peace and truth you can feel as you walk along, and in order to find where the path will lead, you have to keep on walking. Listening to my inner thoughts and instincts will tell me if I am on the right path or wrong. And no amount of preparation or research can substitute for this practice of feeling your way as you go. Maybe the tunnels of insecurity will last only one more week, or maybe months. More likely, they will punctuate our journeys all along the way, taking new forms and following new patterns. Maybe time will provide solutions, will help me find my stride, or maybe finding this gentle stride is the solution itself.
I believe that God allows the truth of what we are created to do to come to us in waves. First, we need to begin somewhere, then we need to move on to someplace else, and on and on, we must always be moving towards his greatest use of our gifts. But it can be really, really uncomfortable. I love to attack a project that has a clear beginning, middle and end, a clear cause and effect pattern, and a clear grading scale for my efforts and results. But this new journey is so much less clear and patterned. And perhaps the only true mark of progress is in taking whatever I can feel to be the right next step.
So today, and this week, I am going to embrace this practice of feeling my way through.
Does it work like this for you, too??