Live, Love And Play With Abandon
Sometimes when I am in the midst of teaching, usually in a workshop, I have the opportunity to really focus in on one person; the alignment and mental/muscle rigidity in their body. The process is very personal and can be very specific. Sometimes it turns into an dialogue and as we all know, conversations are unscripted. I am as transparent as I know how to be during this process and I am very honest. Being a highly creative thinker, concepts pop into my head and before you know it I have uttered something like, “I am not a teacher that is about success, I like to teach people to fail and then get up and try again.” When words about failure spill out of my mouth, I know them to be true in the moment and I recognize also how foreign they must sound to most people. We exist within a society of youthful exuberance. Success is celebrated from sunrise to sunset. Why would anyone, particularly a yoga instructor, be emphasizing failure?
Negative self talk is one of the most wide spread causes of dis-ease I have ever come across. It is also one of the primary causes of loneliness, performance anxiety, and general anxiety. In yoga I see it lead to injury and confusion on a daily basis. In communities and tribes of people it can be one of the primary sources of dysfunction that ultimately leads to addiction, abuse and other behaviors that break down social currency.
To admit to ourselves and to others that we are or have been suffering is admitting that we are or have been vulnerable. Vulnerability is a challenging word for most of us to work with because within its meaning we find the kind of truth that blows the doors right off the hinges. In other words, when we make ourselves vulnerable we open up that part of ourselves which is just like everyone else. Vulnerability means we don’t know the outcome of the next moment and within that space we have the option to feel a deep sense of passion, love and connection.
Failure is one of the most powerful tools I have ever found to physically, emotionally and intellectually stimulate an authentic space for vulnerability and connection. Each time we fall over, get angry, feel embarrassed, stop breathing, give up, only get half way, get confused, etc. is an opportunity to START AGAIN, to TRY A NEW APPROACH, to PLAY WITH ABANDON.
Negative self talk is the pernicious undercurrent to our mind that implies we are anything other than exactly where we need to be at this very moment to learn whatever we need to learn to awaken. Negative self talk is a learned pattern of holding the mind in such a way that we stay tuned into staying fixed in feeling unworthy.
One of the most powerful tools for moving beyond unworthiness is to find a tribe of people who can support us as we try, fail and feel vulnerable. (I fail often, in relationship, in teaching, in business and I am lucky to have a tribe, a group of people I picked and who picked me, that say "John, get up, this is important, try again, you CAN do this!") Another powerful tool is our own MIND. We can learn to work with our own mind and its reactions. The process is simple:
- Engage in a conversation, relationship, experience that stretches you and challenges you...risk everything.
- If you fall, feel frightened, turn away, fail, quit, etc. take 60 seconds to slow your thoughts down while you are in the experience and listen to the tone and texture of what you are telling yourself.
Be forewarned, if your not careful you will teach yourself, your kids, and your tribe that failure is how we stretch ourselves to the next chapter. Failure in the wake of hard work is to be celebrated as much as any success. Life is our time to PLAY, to find our bliss and to awaken to the incredible beauty of the universe within and without.