The Way I Wish To Be Seen

Today after yoga was over and most people had gone, Vince, my trainer, stopped by to say hi and to give me a letter. As it turned out I had a card for him, too. It had the Rilke quote on it about living the questions.

He sat down in the Poang chair and read his card, which didn’t take long because, what I am going to add to Rilke, right?

But his letter took me a while to read. It was on a piece of notebook paper, ripped out. It was a gratitude/reflection letter in which he expressed how much he values our friendship. It was eloquent, as well as heart-felt.

I don’t think we can ever know how we show up to other people. I don’t think we can see ourselves as others see us, as much as we would like to.

“Do you SEE yourself??!!

I think I have some idea how I appear to others, I think I know what my personality is like, but then I get a letter like this, and I think: Oh, this is very different from how I feel inside and how I think I present in the world. It is extremely flattering though, and I wish I could identify more with the person he is describing in this letter, because these are very admirable qualities, indeed.

Or, alternately, I do recognize a piece of my personality in what they are praising, but I don’t see it through their particular lens.

They see me as finished, accomplished in the things they are admiring—things like my self-discipline, or my serenity, or my ability to pay attention, yet, in truth, I am always working to cultivate these attributes.

For example, Vince said that he admires how I resource myself before I meet with people. He was referring to my need to allow time between appointments to eat.

On Tuesdays I have a 1 o’clock appointment and our session doesn’t  usually finish up until a little after noon. I am sensitive to the time on Tuesdays because I really do need to go home and eat before I meet my 1 o’clock client. If I don’t, I can’t be fully present for him because I am distracted by hunger.

The other thing he said about me is that I am quiet. This is something I continue to struggle with.  I don’t think I am quiet at all! But I am working on it. In particular, I am working on being more comfortable with silence, and letting  big gaps of silence grow in a conversation without immediately trying to fill them. I am trying to be patient with the  awkwardness of long conversational lulls.

We drove over to the Health food store in Wellsboro together last week, and since I really didn’t have anything to say, I just drove for quite a while.  He looked out the window and hummed along to the music.

Eventually conversation resumed, and when it did, I enjoyed it even more, since there had been that quiet gap before.

I do a lot of self-work: reading, meditating, taking notes, writing, doing yoga, staying conscious in relationships, and I must say it is gratifying when someone makes a remark that leads me to believe I might be making some progress.

And this is what happened today. Someone saw me the way I wish to be seen. It felt both exhilarating and humbling.

Namaste.

A Letter From My Self

This past New Year’s Eve I hosted a free Yoga Nidra class at my studio.  A whole bunch of cool people showed up, even though the day was bitter cold, and it had even snowed a few hours before, and the roads were very much less than ideal.  I remember I even thought of cancelling it at one point.

But I didn’t.

And all these cool people showed up: regulars, friends of regulars, and a guy I met in a store a few days before and invited.

After I guided them in, and then out of Yoga Nidra (which is a very deep relaxation, very trancey, very hypnogogic) I set them all up with pens, paper, envelopes, and lap desks and invited them to write a letter to themselves.

I asked them to channel their Inner Wisdom Guides, that voice inside them that has been with them since the day they were born.

That voice inside that knows why they were born, and what they were born to do, and is trying, desperately trying, to communicate that info, but can never get through because we are too busy, or distracted, or just stubbornly refuse to pay attention to it.

But now, in this slowed-down, trancey, receptive yoga nidra state, it might have a chance to be heard.

I told them to write, “Dear (their name here)” and let their IWG (Inner Wisdom Guide) take the pen.

When they were done, they were to fold their paper, put it in the envelope, seal it, address it to themselves, and give it to me and I would mail it to them on the first day of spring.

I did it too.

Yesterday, the first day of spring, my letter arrived.

First, I must say, it is very weird to get a letter from yourself.  There it is, this envelope among the other mail, and you recognize the handwriting immediately, (whaaa?), but it takes a few seconds to register, “Ahhhh,  the letter.”

I took mine to my Space Chair. As I opened it I could hear birds singing.  The night I wrote it, I heard nothing.  Maybe wind. Or cars driving slowly on snow.  What did I write that night?  I really couldn’t remember.  I was in a trance.

Here is part of my letter:

Dear Kath,

Think about your Commandments.  Not the “Thou shalt nots” but the the “Thou shalls.”

Thou shall be kind.

Thou shall look in the eyes of others and see there you own eyes.

Thou shall be focused of mind and strong of body.

Thou shall take care of yourself and of everyone you love.

Thou shall forgive.

Thou shall be patient.

Thou shall write thy book.

Thou shall write thy truth.

Thou shall create beauty and order in your surroundings.

Thou shall express gratitude daily.

Thou shall develop sweetness and kindness and focus and strength.

Thou shall practice incessantly, with reverence, for a long time.

Thou shall be an agent of change.

Thou shall expand the sphere of thy concerns.

Thou shall not worry about outer geography.

Thou shall travel deeply inward and that will take you everywhere you want to go.

Thou shall know thyself.

Thou shall be intense.

Thou shall be disciplined.

Thou shall pause often.

Thou shall love everything extravagantly!

I love you!

That’s what inspired me today.