First world problems

Although I should be focused on my practice, in class today I had moments of - “where the hell am I going to start my blog for today?” Let’s just say it’s been one full on day.

Firstly - this mornings practice was really strong for me, which is odd considering my back at the moment. Some background for why I mention this:

For the past few days I have been struggling with Sirsasana (head stand). Balance is off and this is purely to do with being ‘in my head’ too much. Looking around, you see almost everyone in this perfect posture and for some reason I then feel pressure to be in it also. Although I know I can do the asana, whenever I have this additional pressure (self imposed) I freak out! Bharath has also been watching my progress and I couldn’t help but feel he was disappointed my progress has not been as consistent as others (I could be talking absolute crap right now - I have no idea whether anyone elses progress has been consistent or not. And I’m sure Bharath does not judge in any way. My silly insecurities). But putting that aside, today I made a strong commitment to self to ignore all the other voices in my head and just do Sirsasana with no other baggage attached to it. Well - who would have thought I would just fly into the posture! Maybe not fly, but you get my point. A combination of self belief and concentration can lead to marvelous things. “Hello again, Sirsasana my old friend!”

As you all know, the following session was our exam. In a nutshell, I think I did fine. I knew most of what was asked, however of course there were particular questions where I kicked myself for not having spent more time learning them. I think everyone did this. I was particularly proud of how well I knew the Foundation Sequence. All 84 asanas, in Sanskrit with perfect spelling and in order of how they are to be taught. No easy task. But my preparation prior to coming to India really helped me to fly through this part of the exam.

When I returned from a shopping spree lunch at Easy Day (this requires a rickshaw to get there as its a fair distance away) I walked into reception to see one of the young reception boys sitting behind the front door. I could see something was wrong, even with his usual warm smile to greet me. The same boy who played a trick on me re the cleaning of my room, he obviously feels comfortable to chat with me. He lifted the jeans of his right leg and showed me a severely swollen ankle which he could barely walk on. The poor thing had tripped at work in the early morning, with the boss there at the time, and had clearly sprained his ankle quite badly. It broke my heart seeing him sitting there as he needed to complete his 12 (or so) hour shift before he could leave and get some treatment. I gave him some aspirin and Nurofen to hopefully help with some of the pain, but this kid needed a doctor. Talk about putting things into perspective. There I was worrying about the questions I stuffed up in the exam, and then you see people like this lovely young man, maintaining a smile whilst clearly in a lot of pain. This really upset me today, to a point of tears. Me and my ‘first world problems’.

From an emotional point of view, I think every emotion was heightened for me (and everyone else by the sounds of it). Sadness, worry, nervousness, excitement, relief, frustration, gratitude. All sorts was/is going on. By the time Owen and I chatted on Skype, I was a blubbering mess. “Get a grip Jessica!” Being reminded that I cannot save the world and stop suffering, added to it a little.

This evenings practice was good fun. Bharath tends to use the evening sessions to challenge us a little further by introducing new, and advanced, asanas. My core is still very weak so I struggle with many which require lifting the body completely off the floor (I can do some, but it’s bloody hard as I am relying on arm strength rather than core stability). But I’m certainly impressed by some of the contraptions I manage to move myself into. It’s incredible to see how far you can challenge yourself, within your limit of course. What I noticed tonight was how many students were sitting the class out. Slowly, slowly, over the past week or so, more and more students and choosing to sit the asana classes out. What a huge opportunity loss! I want to make the most of every moment I can be in a class with Bharath, because I guarantee it will be a challenge to find another teacher as brilliant as he back home. Bharath is big on making sure we challenge our minds as this is what holds us back most of the time. I can’t help but wonder how many of the students are giving into unhelpful thoughts and in effect giving up for the day. My back is in terrible pain still, but I know I can work through this (within my limits of course). If I gave in at every niggle I felt, or slight snuffly nose, then I would never practice. I think a lot of people are doing exactly that - paying attention to the wrong messages of the mind.

So on that note, I want to leave you with a question: If something is a challenge (physically, mentally or both) and you want to quit, ask yourself why? Is it because you truly are at a point of exhaustion or could really hurt yourself? Or are you giving into the mind because that’s the easier option? If it’s the latter, I recommend one learns to challenge that part of the mind, because in doing so, wonderful things can be achieved.

Namaste xx