Niki said this the other day when I asked her advice about a student of mine. Sometimes, words-- even those casually thrown out there-- have a way of burrowing into my very consciousness. I'm coming to realize that the things/events/themes/situations that pluck my strings, come up frequently, or cause a shift in my perception are the ones the most worthy of examination. So when these words plucked a particular thread for me, I realized this was the summation of an experience I had recently.
I spent weekend before last in Houston, where I attended the Texas Yoga Conference along with several friends (Jeanie, Melissa, Tami, Chrys) I hadn't seen in a long time. I made lots of new friends, one of whom, Jennifer, a yoga teacher trained by Anusara instructors in Houston, was kind enough to put me up in her beautiful home for the 5 days I was there along with several other awesome yoga chicks. At one point she made the statement, "I love to give hugs... I'm a hugger." (She does give fantastic hugs... and even wore a t-shirt that said "FREE HUGS.") Turns out she is a fantastic Acro-Yoga base as well! She is the very definition of love and support and kindness.
I think we often can let ourselves be put off by what we initially see in others... or in situations... and undoubtedly, that can block our growth. I know that there's a part of me that feels threatened by boldness in others. It's like there is a built-in laser beam that hones right in on these qualities and initially, I may shy away from connection because of it. But with Jenn, her realness, intelligence and wit, so sharp indeed that I might otherwise have been put off, immediately gave way to her warm and radiant smile that just drew me in. And then, I was lucky enough to get to learn what an incredible story she has and how almost maddening personal challenges gave birth to this beautiful, amazing soul who gives and gives and gives. She is the very essence of the lotus, opening to beauty from the muddy water.
Her actual story itself, here, doesn't matter (plus it's not mine to tell anyway)... The lesson here is what has stayed with me... This idea that when we allow our defenses to soften, our hard outer edges to relax, we become open to so much beauty.
John Friend has had a rough go of it lately, and I don't mean to opine on his recent legal and moral situation in this post... but the one thing I do want to bring up was this quote, from his workshop in Pennsylvania in November 2010: "If I had only one thing to teach you, one thing to leave with you this weekend, it would be this: Soften the limiting ideas you have about yourself. Open your heart to something more. You are worthy of living this day fully."
I learned a lot about myself that weekend... that I actually love therapeutic basing and flying, Thai massage, and teachers that do seemingly crazy things (putting me up on your feet for a long flight right before the Sean Johnson workshop? thanks Mateo! holding us in Frog for the entire length of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You"? thanks Les! moving from Lunge to Eagle to a "made it up when I was in the shower" pose called OMG to Bird of Paradise? thanks Dana!)
Even if that's not necessarily the teacher I am... I can so appreciate it. It's a little like a vacation from being me for a while, getting out of my own super-grounded, often heavy ways so I can float around for awhile. I can embrace being "whatever" for a while because I know who I am. And maybe, little bits of what I experience will begin to shift and change me, in the most amazing ways.
My weekend in Houston was an exercise in Muscular Energy. Pulling in from all that's around me, drawing it in, to strengthen, lift, bloom, become... heal.