Your yoga practice is a lot like compost:
Yoga is an opportunity for self reflection, an opportunity available for everyone if they choose to take it. Just like a yoga pose, self reflection is challenging and requires us to be open and honest; not necessarily with other people (although that will probably happen), but with ourselves. When we as yogis are unwilling to self reflect, typically what happens- is we project. We project that which we are unwilling to turn inward, sit with and make changes from.
Change is hard and many times downright crappy. But change is a necessary and a pivotal part of life. When I think about all the different ways to discuss or even label change these come to mind: growth, transformation, to let go and even acceptance to name a few. All of these words require us to go within and do some sort of work, some sort of self reflection; and when we are neither in a place that we are ready to self reflect and see what’s actually there or we are just not ready, typically-we project. We project that which we cannot yet turn inward with and digest ourselves.
I spent a big bulk of my life projecting so that I wouldn’t have to deal with my core issues in life. Everything was everyone else’s fault, everything that was happening to me, around me and even within me was almost always, in my mind, the result of another. It was a defense mechanism to protect and preserve the only thing I knew, the only thought process and outlook that was comfortable-even though it was very much unhealthy. When yoga came into my life it was both liberating and frustrating because yoga gave me the freedom to feel, but then I also had to see myself and deal with what self-reflection was actually showing me. I had to push myself to see what was going on inside, instead of pushing it off on others as their fault and their issues- I had to take a real look.
Growth happens when we let go of our expectations on people, situations and life. Letting go of our expectations does not mean that we no longer hope or desire anything from life anymore; but really that we come at our life (our mat) in a way that opens doors rather than has us lingering in the doorway just waiting to close them or prove others are wrong.
I think without a doubt we can all confess at least to ourselves that we have pushed our “stuff” off onto others, either by our short comings, unable at that time to see what we were doing or because our ego was in the way and our ego says it’s never us.
I say to my students each and every day that yoga is a mirror reflection for our everyday life and that reflection is available for us to see when we finally decide to see it. I will be the first to attest that the reflection will not always be quaint and pretty, most likely uncomfortable and even saddening at times; but that is how growth happens. You take the mixture of your life, your actions and your situation and you compost it. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines compost as a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter and is used for fertilizing and conditioning land.
That mixture is your stuff, your baggage, your mindsets, your hang-ups, habits, your ego, and the hope is that this mixture of all of this and more becomes the decaying organic matter that can veritably be used for fertilizing your life and the conditions of others.
My yoga practice has taught me a lot about my compost and getting dirty in my own s#@* has allowed me to get real with life. Moreover, once you are truly able to see the crap you are in, only then can you begin to transform.
Yoga has brought me to a place where when things don’t go my way or are not to my liking, I first ask why? After asking why, I step back and take a few moments to see how much of my own compost is altering my experience. Coming from a place where I took everything personal in my life, once I realized why I was continuously doing that I was better equipped to let others off the hook for my short comings. Thank goodness for yoga as it reminds us all that no one is perfect and at any one moment our s#@* can spill over. And the more we reflect rather than project, we then are much better able to help others, and we too are able to be helped.
So I urge you to keep coming to your mat, keep getting uncomfortable, keep taking classes and stepping into poses that ruffle your feathers and ask you to sit in your being. Resist the urge to roll up your mat those five minutes early in the hopes to avoid discomfort, and sit in those poses as your mind stews- this allowing you to sift through your thoughts, emotions and reactions to truly get to the bottom of why you feel they way you do.
Because seldom is it ever really about the pose, or the teacher or even the class; but really about how we receive those things and how they reflect back upon us.
From my heart to yours, from my soul to yours and from my mat to yours- Namaste.