by Giselle RenardeIf you've ever done Wai Lana yoga at 5 in the morning, you'll know she plays yoga sounds at the end of each episode. Every so often, she plays one that is, as far as I can tell, a variation of this verse from the Siksastaka (a Hindu prayer):
One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind,
thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street;
one should be more tolerant than a tree,
devoid of all sense of false prestige,
and ready to offer all respect to others.
The variation goes something like this (I'm working from memory, here):
One should approach yoga in a humble state,
thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street,
devoid of all false prestige,
and ready to offer all respect to others,
without ever expecting any in return.
Every time I hear those words, they just fucking BREAK me. Strangely enough, a later verse of the Siksastaka says,
Tears are flowing from my eyes like torrents of rain,
and I am feeling all vacant in the world in Your absence.
That's exactly what happens every time I hear that instruction in humility.
Well, maybe the fact that it's 5:30 in the morning and I haven't slept has something to do with it, but I think it's more about PRIDE.
I aspire to compassion and humility, but those aren't really qualities that are bred into us in North America. Even here in Canada, where we happen to be particularly self-effacing, we're still raised to be proud and strong and to command respect. And if commanding doesn't work, you DEMAND it.
Having grown up in a household plagued by violence and addiction, I always felt like I had to work SO HARD to advocate on my own behalf, and PROVE MYSELF in a world that might otherwise write me off. I had to show my teachers how SMART I was, how GOOD I was, how I could SUCCEED despite every impediment I'd faced. I had to prove I deserved respect.
I've come a long way since then. I'm educated now. I'm self-sufficient, I have a career that I love, and I spent ten years of my life volunteering with children who faced the same obstacles I did at that age. I don't know if I'm respected by all (in fact, I'm sure I'm not), but I do respect myself. Maybe that's the key.
Even so, all it takes to break me down into a sobbing heap is the suggestion that I might give up even an ounce of my stupid pride. It doesn't take much to get my hackles up. It doesn't take much to get me feeling superior to others. Gee, it's tiring being so much better than everyone else...
I'm a pendulum swinging from helpful good intentions to steely self-righteousness when I feel like people are taking advantage.
I don't want to feel challenged or threatened. I don't want to be angered. When I encounter someone with a dominating or demeaning personality, I only want to feel compassion for them. I want to show respect for their journey, and understand that they didn't arrive where they are in a vacuum.
How do I get from here to there? How do I get to a place where I can just abandon every drop of my pride?
I want to be lower than straw in the street.
But, man, it's not easy...
|My latest release is Sapphic Confessions|