I had a great exchange with a student today that seemed worth sharing. A new beginner student came to class today, whom we will call Joe. He came in with a friend that has been practicing for a long time. Both were a pleasure to work with - very sincere in their openness to learn. After class we chatted a bit:
Friend: Katie, do you have any advice for Joe?
Me: Well, Joe got lots of general and some personal instructions, though I'm sure those won't all be integrated in just one class! It will take some more frequent exposure and practice.
Joe: Yeah, it was good! But I kept having to look around every once and a while to make sure I was doing it right.
Me: Hmm. Did my words and instructions make sense to you? Were they understandable?
Joe: (paused) Yes, I think so. I was just unsure of myself. I wasn't sure if I was doing it right.
Me: You know, sometimes I will say the same thing three different ways because everybody hears differently. And I can see right away if my words are making sense -- but if they don't you can just give me a look ;)-- But, really, I think you've just answered the question. Yoga is really all about Listening. So we turn off the radio, the tv, the phone, outside voices, mind chatter, and ego stuff and we get really quiet. And then, maybe we can we hear our heart. The challenge for people that have been practicing asana for a long time is that they have an overlay of previously constructed dialog and expectations that can really challenge being present and fully experiencing. You have the advantage of freshness!
So for you, and pretty much anybody, the work is practicing being present, building your awareness, and learning to trust that you are hearing correctly. Then you do your best to incorporate it, or make wise choices based on that understanding. And it builds from there. You start to really listen to your body, to your breath, to your intuition, and to your spirit. You can get to a place where you can go deep into your experience and truly trust yourself. Does that makes sense? Does that sound too out there?"
Joe: "No, I think that sounds cool." :)
Katie: "OK cool!!"
Cheers to deep listening!