Merriam Webster defines potential as "existing in possibility". For years I lived my life seeing mostly the potential for failure and disappointment. I theorized that if something better happened, the surprise would enhance the experience. I was WRONG!
When I met my husband, he only saw the greatest potential in me. It was unlike anything I had felt up to that point. When I said, "I'd like to run a marathon, but I could never do that." He responded with, "why not," and I completed the goal. I fell deeply in love with yoga, I loved how the practice made me feel, and wanted to share it with others. When I said, "I'd like to be a yoga teacher, but I could never do that," he had his usual response. Damn him, he was right about that too. He saw the potential that my clouded vision was unable to see.
I can't say when it happened exactly, but gradually I have been transformed. I no longer see the potential for disaster and failure. I see potential and possibility in myself and others, and it makes me so much happier than that assumed happy surprise ever did. Yoga was a big part of this transformation, so I'd like to look at the process.
1. My teacher skillfully draws attention and focus to one physical action for an entire class. She is able to lead a group of yogis through a class that leaves us fascinated by the potential in our big toe. After class, I'll walk around for days assessing my arch and the way I place my foot. Before I was just walking, but it is this attention to detail that started to awaken something inside me.
2. In yoga class, you may quickly learn that what you are thinking about, and where you look is the direction you go. When I think about falling, I do. When I feel the muscular engagement, pay attention to the connection in areas of my body, feel the lightness in my frame, I feel like I can fly. Balancing poses become easier, and the whole class seems brighter. These feelings spread to the rest of my day.
3. I started studying yoga texts. The Yoga Sutras, writings and teachings of yogis, they were all so fascinating. They slowly started to assist in my shift of thinking. I love "Light on Yoga" by B.K.S. Iyengar, and think is a great place to start.
4. Teaching was like nothing else. Once I got over the initial fear, and got my ego out of the way, it became entirely about the experience of the students. I was able to see the potential in my students, and watch the practice help them transform physically and mentally. I was able to see the joy when they master that challenging pose. I was able to see the shift to stillness at the end of class, and that post yoga joy on their faces. I love seeing the potential in others!
These experiences were bound to carry through to my daily life. I am more open to other people and the world around me. Seeing the potential for the positive allows me to make interesting connections to patients in the hospital, students, friends, and family. Life is full of amazing possibilities and connections. Yoga has helped me transform into a person who can really see the beauty and love that are waiting I love living in this place, and hope that you find teachers that can help you to do the same.
Thank you to all of my teachers, students, family, and friends. I can now see the beauty and potential in all of you, and I love you.
Namaste - Beth