I cannot stop thinking about an article Yoga Journal ran in the February’13 issue, “Practice Awareness,” that gathered Baxter Bell, Ana Forrest, Gary Kraftsow, and Patricia Walden to discuss how injuries occur.
Unfortunately, YJ does not have the article posted on its website but Mr. Bell has a synopsis of it on his blog, here.
The consensus between all of these tenured panelists was everyone comes to class with an ailment that’s bothering them. While this exchange mainly focused on the occurrence of physical injuries, I found myself drawing parallels to other areas of life where we suffer from impairments.
How many times have we witnessed a seemingly healthy, uninjured person come in late to class and righteously ask practitioners to rearrange everything for them (props, mats, row capacity), which throws off the perfect, staggered spacing everyone negotiated before the teacher started their dharma talk. Once in the flow their feet come too close to your face or their upward arm swing nearly smacks a nose off and then this person ends up leaving class early.
Curses to them!!! Oh – I’ve done it with scowling looks and heavy sighs.
It’s very hard to feel compassion for someone who is so unconscious. But that’s their wound that has their attention. They’re not noticing what’s going on, on the outside because their inside is a mess.
Everyone comes to class injured. I’d add everyone we encounter in everyday life is injured emotionally, physically, or spiritually.
We’re more likely to believe someone is hurt when we can visibly see their battle scars. Like Mr. Cutie above. When you first looked at him, didn’t you feel bad for him? Awww…poor bear.
Actually this, in part, is our trust issue, our egos, not wanting to give something intangible the benefit of doubt. Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Perhaps people come to class to work on their problems of faith by opening up to a teacher, venturing into a new experience, or are striving to believe in themselves and to cultivate their instincts. Or maybe they’re not used to experiencing a feeling of community.
Can we start small and practice dropping the judgement for those who have invisible wounds just for an hour, in the studio? We, as a congregation, have the chance to contribute to deepening what is already crippled or to help it to heal.