Monday, September 7, 2009

Trusting The Water

"You know, tonight reminded me of something I learned from swimming. You have to trust the water if you want to swim well. You can't fight it. You can't think of your hands as oars manhandling the world around you. Trust the water. Pierce through the water. Let the water support you, all of you. Your only task is to glide forward... easily, gracefully, beautifully.

I don't think I would've really been able to grasp that about swimming if you hadn't taught me yoga first. You opened up an entirely new world to me when you told me to breathe out and ease into the posture. Running, weights, sports... I've only ever known intensity. I've always trained by the motto: "Leave your blood on the dumbbell and your guts on the floor."

But this couldn't be more different. Ease into the posture. Don't force it. Don't push down. Let your body tell you how far it can go. And ease further."

One of my favorite people in the world is my yoga teacher (yogini) Kendra. At the end of our sessions together, I am typically awash with new insight and reflection. Part of it comes from doing yoga in general. Most of it comes from doing yoga with her.

I've gone to do yoga in large groups before and generally, I truly don't like it. Sometimes it's been like a berserk Billy Banks DVD with vegans. With Kendra, the practice has been the most perfect fusion of philosophy, spirituality and physicality that I've ever experienced.

It was with her that I was finally able to realize the teachings that so many others had tried to tell me. In essence, it was through practicing with her that I was finally able to stop trying so hard.

Or at least begin to.

Don's been telling me. Scott's been telling me. Anna's been telling me. But they may as well have told me to start doing calculations with imaginary numbers. I couldn't. I lacked the heuristic framework for doing so. I didn't have the categories to make sense of "Take it easy. Relax."

For me, no matter what they said, all I heard was "Don't pursue your goals. Don't chase after something that can never be yours. Relax and accept your destiny as trash." But I don't think Kendra has ever told me to "take it easy" as a life-attitude to adopt. With yoga, it was the first experience I ever had where more force of will was counter-productive.

Swimming was the next. And with swimming, I needed to take a step further. I needed to trust the water. Can I trust life? The universe? God?

I read the Alchemist. I hated it. What is this destiny/love/fate trash? What is this if you really pursue something you love, the universe will help you get there garbage? You have what you have because you seize it with the force of your will, the power of your intellect and the strength of your hands. Hard work and sacrifice, sweat and blood, it's by these two elixirs that true alchemy is performed and base metal is turned to golden reward.

I mentioned in a previous post how I was terrified to go and serve those whom I loathed for fear that I would revert. Here too, I am afraid of trusting because of reverting back to what I once was. Once, I was someone who waited for food to fall into my lap and for someone to shove me through open doors of opportunity. And my life was a miserable wreck internally, always pining for "what could have been if only..."

And to see the tremendous difference that has happened in my life by becoming pro-active, by realizing that most likely nothing will happen if I do not make it happen has been a true revelation for me.

But there are things in life that cannot be forced, love being the foremost example in my mind. Have you ever heard the phrase "He/she is just trying too hard." What's a man's confidence but trust in his own ability. What's faith, religious faith, but trust in God's providence?

Breathe out. Ease into this part of life.

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