Primary Friday: Taking Notes

I have led a fortunate life.  Born to loving parents, well cared for and fed, I enjoyed a happy childhood and survived the reckless teen years no worse for wear.  Some key decisions of young adulthood have been... shall we say... difficult to justify, but all in all, this life is going well and, considering my propensity for wrong turns, both on the road and off, for that I can only take so much credit.  Because whether or not one believes in god or God -- he or she, the one or many -- it is important to give credit where credit is due, to be able to recognize when one has been aided along, indeed, to know when one has been treated gently.

Yes, still hung up on gentleness here.

Spiritually, I have occupied the spectrum from believer of Christ to stubborn atheist.  (I was once labeled  a "nihilist" by a man who lived with me for several years.  At the time, I considered it one of the greatest complements I had ever received.)  In spite of this, I have always been vaguely aware of a suspiciously lucky streak running through my life.  I have suffered far less for my actions than many might have for the same.  I do not take this fact lightly -- most of the time.

Sometimes I just can't help it, gotta ride that karmic wave and make the dangerous decision, but it's also true that when the universe (i.e. god, God, the tao, the "natural order," the eternal cosmic dance of creation and destruction, etc...) gives me a slap on the wrist, I pay attention.  Because -- by golly! -- I am nothing if not a good student.

Popular culture's favorite nihilists.  "We believe in nothing!"
It just so happens that I have received two of those signature slaps (More like "pats," really, my teacher is so gentle...) since last week's telling Primary Friday post: 1) There is a large, fresh dent on the passenger side of my vehicle as a result of the slow, steady escalation of my own insane, aggressive driving behavior.  2)  My left knee has been reinjured.

I am greatly displeased.  The car thing, well, I deserved that.  But the knee??  I've been careful! I've been gentle... with myself.

And there it is.  (This is getting too damn easy.)  Ahimsa in the practice is all well and good, but if one fails to eventually take the strengths we develop and offer them up, then the practice is done in vain.  Or worse, it increases one's capacity to cause harm, both to oneself and to others.

Displeased though I may be, I am also very grateful.  It could easily have been a much more serious accident considering my recent history on the road.  (I know... for shame!)  And my knee, though this may be a setback, does not seem to be as badly injured as before.  Lotus postures are okay for the most part, but leg-behind-head may not be happening for a while.  This is fine.  I can deal with this.  I can learn from this.

See what I mean?  Gentle.

Is it foolish of me, as a teacher, to share these first-hand lessons with an audience consisting at least partially of my own students?  Maybe.  But the greatest teachers, in my experience, are attentive students, too.  And, as a student, at least my students know that I am paying attention.


  1. I am glad you were not seriously injured Miss Megan! I identify strongly with unyogic behavior behind the wheel, I suffer from this as well. It surprises me to no end how some very unkind things will slip from my lips while driving a car. I wonder why this is?

    1. Ha! Thanks, Mo.

      While I do fire an f-bomb from time to time, my problem is not so much road rage, but more of a deep-set need to make good time. I like to chalk it up to perfectionism. It's a long-term issue; my driving instructor once told me that my driving gave him indigestion. Haha!

  2. I've nominated your blog for a Versatile Blogger Award. I hope you have fun with it. http://eveyoga.com/2012/03/11/blogging-award-a-kind-of-peer-recognition/

  3. Hi Megan, I ask myself the same question about my blog, knowing that some of my readers also take my classes. But I find it so much more real. I know people who teach and you would think they never dropped an F bomb or or got a little hot under the collar while driving. And maybe they don't. But I do and I refuse to fake it. Who's going to learn anything from that?
    So one thing I've always appreciated about this blog is your daring honesty and willingness to put it out there. It leaves me feeling a lot more hopeful than reading something that drips with honey and goo but doesn't feel real. Thank you!

  4. Let me share the story of a friend of mine - devoted Ashtangi, strong practitioner, working on Secondary and considering becoming a teacher, when one day, she was in a terrible accident.

    In the space of a few awful minutes, she suddenly was confronted with a new reality. Surgery, operations, doubt over whether she would regain the use of her leg, let alone ever walk again.

    That is her story so I won't tell it for her, but 2 years later she is back to secondary with a fresh perspective.

    The thing she said to me that she learned? Non-attachment. She learned to practice without being attached to the pose. She learned to embrace Ashtanga without being attached to Ashtanga. She learned not to be attached to the poses or possibilities that she "lost" because of the lasting damage of the accident. In short, she is learning to find acceptance in her practice - to find that elusive softness.

    Your post is a reminder to us all that yoga is not about what we do on the mat - it's what we do off the mat that matters.


  5. My own driving has become insane and aggressive. I keep trying to heed the warnings of the near accidents I'm in daily, but it seems I'm also becoming deaf.

    1. Please be careful, Meliasaurus. The signs are there for a reason, don't let the situation escalate as I did.