After a recent yoga class a student came up and asked, “Are you always this peaceful?”
I looked her in the eye and said, “Nooooo! I’m a terror.”
And we laughed!
(I do believe she thought I was kidding). Terror might be a little harsh, but no, I am not always peaceful.
I told her I practice yoga because I need to. Not because I am naturally peaceful. Her ask was especially ironic that week, because I had been feeling anything but peaceful. I’d been quick to anger. I’d been quick to get my feelings hurt. Times like that, when people assume I’m “peaceful” I feel like a big old hypocrite. (I imagine most yoga teachers if they are being honest have felt imposter syndrome from time to time).
It’s not that I’m pretending to be peaceful when I teach. I am peaceful when I teach. I’m 100% present and focused on my classes. I don’t have to think about the stresses of my everyday life during the time I have students in front of me. Teaching is its own form of meditation. It’s sacred space. I love it.
So how about this? Generally, I’m more peaceful than I would be without yoga in my life. But I’m a passionate person with the full range of emotions. Life often enough throws me big
seemingly impossible challenges. Some days are better than others. Most days I am skillful. Sometimes I fall flat on my face.
Toting the essential oils I use in my classes has my car often smelling like heaven. My daughter’s friends hopped into the back seat one time recently and went all dreamy.
“You’re mom is sooooo peaceful…,” the girls swooned, inhaling.
Riley was quick to correct them,
“She’s not peaceful all the time.”
And we laughed!
I never said I was. I might wish I was. But I can’t pretend to be.
For all the yogis out there, who fear they are not allowed to feel anything other than “peace, love, la la la….,” I would like to call BS on that.
I can feel mad, sad, hurt, depressed, overwhelmed, hopeless, or like a failure some days. I’d never heap any of that onto my students, but I sometimes feel those things. Of course I do.
My guess is “ultra spiritual” people who claim to have risen above negative emotions are kidding themselves, or lying, or are fortunate enough to have lives set up where almost everything goes their way. One of my friends, a fellow special-needs mom says of self-proclaimed enlightened ones, “Try one day in my life, and see how you do.”
And we laughed!
When I’m feeling imposter syndrome, I need to remind myself that having moments (or days) of not feeling peaceful doesn’t mean I’m not a good yoga teacher. Or a good mom. Or a good person.
It is in moments of despair, on our worst days, that we are called to look in the mirror with compassion toward the parts of us that are hurting, not kick ourselves for being in pain, or for not being further along the path than we think we should be.
There is a saying in the yoga world, “Gentle is the new advanced.” This usually means asana, but I think it also includes being gentle with ourselves when we are in emotional pain. It just means we’re human.
This breath in.
This breath out.