Rerouting Towards Center

Earlier this week I found myself spinning. Not the kind of spinning I used to do on the ice, but an all-too familiar internal spinning that I (gratefully) haven't experienced in quite some time. I did what I could do manage the anxiety, prioritizing slowing down to self-sooth. I whipped out all of my tools-- the bath, the notebook, the cushion, the mat-- and yet, I still found myself lost in a whirlwind of moving thoughts amidst a heavy cloud of judgment. To put it simply, I was judging myself for feeling as I was feeling. Then I was judging myself for judging myself. After all, I teach yoga and mindfulness for a living-- Shouldn't I know better? Shouldn't I have mastered this already? How many times do I need to learn the same lessons? Who am I to be teaching anything at all? And so it goes...

Through all of this I started to think about the difference between mastery and perfection, honoring the fact that this path has never once asked me, or any of us for that matter, to attain a state of internal perfection. The moment that I turned to my tools was when I realized the true strength and power of my practice. And the anxiety didn't go away-- however, it lessened, and I danced with it.

I have started to view mastery as a dynamic process of continuously re-routing towards center. It is about responding in moments of reaction, of simplifying in moments of  complication and of taking the turn towards compassion rather than going down the rocky road of judgment and shame. 

I don't have it all figured out and I'll never pretend to-- that's not what this whole being human thing is all about. I fall down everyday and my work continues to be in letting myself fall, feel the fall and pull myself back up, using whatever tools I can along the way. It comes down to cultivating an unwavering commitment to "re-route" ourselves so that in Iyengar's words, "when something happens, I am not thrown off course, and when nothing happens, I do not lose my way."  

Adding to this... if and when we DO lose our way, may we have the courage and care to turn to our tools to help bring ourselves back to center. May we let the arising arise and not fall victim to our own self-critic. May the process of mastery be a dynamic dance of letting go and letting in-- as always, moment-to-moment, breath-by-breath.

Lauren Cohen