Attachment, Beginnings, Courage, Creating Awareness, Dealing w/ Uncertainty, Having Faith, Lessons From Postures, Patience

Facing the Advanced Beginner Mentality

After 19-months, I finally returned to the yoga studio! While I was deliriously excited to get back to a spacious room and reveled in flowing in the energy of a group setting, I also found I was twisted-up with feelings of embarrassment, timidity, and sadness…because I’m a different yogi now; one who cannot do the fancy tricks and inversions she did before. 

Even though I am at peace with all the pandemic factors that led me away from practicing, this inner turmoil has been bothering me. I keep telling myself, Let it go. It’s ok…you’re just starting over. But the mournful feelings still fester. 

Looking back to when I first started practicing in November of 2008, as a novice who couldn’t do a bind and I was captivated at those who balanced perfectly in half moon, I was a clean slate and everything was a gain. I had no idea for how far I could go. 

But 10+ years later and tens of thousands of hours of class in my narrative, there’s now a treasure chest of education that I’ve accumulated. And now I find myself in a complicated situation because my mind knows exactly how to get into the poses but my body doesn’t yet have the capability to pull them off.

And I’ve realized that it’s this knowledge that’s creating these gloomy emotions since I’m armed to analyze what I was capable of and I’m wishing for what could be. 

For any of you who are returning to a skill or hobby that you once mastered, know that you are coming back with this “Advanced Beginner” perspective. And this vantage point can be a bit of a silent hardship. 

You have an arsenal of expertise that can gently guide you on your revival journey, or you can accidentally punish yourself with it. That evil ego can say things like, You’re not good at this anymore. Everyone else is doing better than you are. This is never going to be what it used to be. 

And some, whether they realize it or not, will listen to these unhelpful thoughts and end up abandoning their efforts. 

Apprehensiveness and anxiety are created when we’re subtly sticking to a stubborn expectation for what we want to happen. Radhanath Swami says: 

“The more you expect in return for what you’re doing, the more your heart feels the loneliness and emptiness.”

It’s important to stay kindly vigilant as your own patient, comeback instructor. Let bravery be your prop to keep showing up and to stay curious and playful for what might unfold next. Even if you find that things have fallen away perhaps you will discover something new that you couldn’t do before.

To begin again is not only a chance to reconnect to a joy and happiness that you’ve known but also it’s an opportunity to practice a humble bravery to being open to what’s on the other side no matter what happens. 

**BTW…if you enjoy this blog, I’ve also started a newsletter on Substack called “Assignment: Humanity.” It’s here if you’d like to check it out.**

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