Sutra I.18, in which the past never truly goes away
First, the good news. On Monday, I met with a student who'd come in with very limited mobility in her left arm and shoulder. And huzzah - after two weeks of very gentle therapy, she has so much more range and strength. Yeah! We devised a new practice for her, and she's coming back in a few weeks to check in again.
Still, I have these moments, every day, when I feel panic creeping up on me. Being home, being self-employed, trying to market myself and my yoga - these lay under the surface of my awareness, and between lunch and about 5:30 in the evening, launch a full attack on my confidence that this thing will fly.
I went to a workshop given by a very famous yoga teacher a few weeks ago. He spoke about many, very meaningful topics. But what stuck with me? The moment when he turned to this room full of yoga teachers and yoga teachers-in-training and yoga students (almost all women, except for two guys - and thank goodness for them, because a room full of women, even smart, strong women, start to sound like "Pick-a-Little" from The Music Man) and said: "It's tough making a living as a yoga teacher. " If you can do anything else, then I would advise it, he continued.
What makes it tough? (And I mean tough as a relative measure. As they say in that old Yiddish folktale, things could always be worse. ) The uncertainty. The way time moves at an infinitesimal rate when there is no schedule imposed by a boss or job. Creating marketing materials and business cards and sending out emails and making contacts, as I lay the groundwork for developing a practice in yoga therapy and yoga. No weekly paycheck. The price of gas and food. And yarn. (That one I finally came to an agreement with myself: be creative this summer and find uses for the yarn that I already own. September and my birthday will roll around just as I finish off the stash, and then: gift cards! yarn! books!)
And the biggest obstacle: me and my memories. I think that working from home is transporting me back to the months of slogging away at my dissertation for my doctorate in English. And the politics of my graduate school, where your work had to be sexy, in the academic sense, or at minimum, worth the professor affiliating himself with, in order for you to take one tiny step forward, then two back. Progress was slow. I spent many hours staring at a computer screen (good-bye contacts forever), writing and rewriting and editing and proofing. In the mornings, my daughters would go off to school or home daycare. I would work until lunch, then give myself a short break, work again, and then maybe escape to the gym or for a walk to blow some of the fuzz out of my brain.
See, even writing about it makes me relive the feeling. My eyes feel strangely dry all of a sudden. I have a distinct crick in my neck. The house is empty. And it's beautiful outside, but I'm inside typing away at a computer.
Thank goodness for the wisdom of Patanjali, who must have been a graduate student sometime in his ancient career. In Sutra I.18, he writes: viramapratyaybhyasapurvah samskaraseso'nyah. I call this the Onion sutra: that last word is pronounced like onion-hah. but without the middle n: un-yah-hah.
In this sutra, Patanjali discusses the results of Sutra I.17. (Okay, who remembers that sutra? Two extra points and a skein of something for you.) In I.17, he talks about the different stages of learning, from stumbling like a baby to knowing the topic so thoroughly that it melds into you and there's no sense of having to think about how to do it, as when you ride a bike and it is effortless, because you've gone through all the other steps to learning how to ride.
In I.18, Patanjali explains that the effort, the practice of a new skill, will push down the old, awkward, uncomfortable stages. Thus, understanding, at a deeper level - pratyaya - acts to suppress what was before - and what was before, or purvah, is the awkward, unsure self. But - and my teacher has a way of saying "but" that makes it clear that now the ball is going to drop - the OLD STUFF NEVER GOES AWAY. The samskara - what I think of as emotional scar tissue, or old habits, or our conditioning from our families and society and culture - is always latent. Seso - which can be translated as hidden or latent - is a key word here: the samskara may be less powerful as we add in new, more beneficial patterns, but it's always lurking there, somewhere in the back rooms of our consciousness.
My work yesterday was to try to build a new room for my yoga work. Literally. And probably figuratively too, truth be told. (And yes, my dissertation was on the image of the room in texts, so that pattern is in my mind to stay. Live with something for six years and you'll never lose it, even if you want to.) I cleaned up the sun room, moved the furniture around a bit, scored a deal on the last rice-paper screen at the Oriental furniture store near my house, and straightened the bookshelves.
Here's the sun room. I'm going to experiment with seeing students here and see how it works. Below is a view of my loom. No place for it elsewhere: I'm thinking that it adds a nice, handcrafty touch. The student will face in this direction, toward two windows and the fountain. Does the screen close off enough of the living room for it not to be a distraction? And will the VCR whir too much if I'm taping So You Think You Can Dance?
Now, one hour until I see a student at the yoga center, then I want to sweep all the leaves and twigs off the front steps and hope that my 6 pm student doesn't cancel. Phew.