[Posted on CrazySexyLife.com, 20 July 2011]
Do you ever feel that you deserve more love? Or that the people close to you should do a better job of showing you love? We expect everyone – our teachers, our partners, our parents, even our kids – to give us love, to help open our hearts. For me this expectation of love was debilitating, and I was making myself into a victim. To tap into real love – from my family, my beloved, my child, my friends – I needed (and still need) to take the drama out and just choose a course of action. Once I read this sentence it was clear.
“If you want to know about love, forget all about love, and look for direction.”
– G.I. Gurdjieff
Direction, in this phrasing, refers to your attention, your direction in your work, your behavior, your mind, your heart. Where there is direction, there is consistency, clarity and consciousness. And where there is consistency, clarity and consciousness, all forms of love (respect, caring, listening) emanate naturally. Direction can be the simplest boundary: a bedtime for yourself so you can stick to your plan of action the following day, a rule for yourself around being on time. Start small. All we need is a way to be proud of ourselves and all sorts of positivity follows.
We humans mostly see ourselves as having clear direction, yet in most of our biggest choices in life there is an egregious element of happenstance, and a concurrent lack of that feeling of love. So I have two seemingly opposing proposals for all humans: read poetry, and get a life coach. Here’s why.
As a public school student in high school, landing freshman year at Cornell University in a roundtable-style poetry section limited to 10 students was a major privilege. I was one of 10 instead of one of 30, and each voice was instrumental to the conversation. Ever since, poetry holds me tight and will never let me go.
When e.e. cummings asks “since feeling is first/ who pays any attention to the syntax of things,” my mind and heart open, every time. When A.R. Ammons says that “…everything is magnificent with glory/ nothing is diminished/ nothing is diminished for me,” I’m reminded of that level of magnificence in everything I’m doing. Pia Tafdrup reminds me to “…open my eyes/ and consider the world: Mysteriously near, and crystal sharp.” Agi Mishol speaks for our silence, “You won’t be able to escape me/ I am the quiet in the disquiet of your bodies … I am the attentiveness found everywhere/ I rise out of you/ now.” And so I begin listening and locating my silence – again.
Reading poetry that’s tuned to that universal resonance is magical. Regardless of time or space, those sentiments plow directly into your heart and are etched as pivotal sensations. So when I began teaching yoga around 1998 (and since I had little understanding or trust in my teaching voice), I incorporated poetry into my teaching. For a long time I could only offer the heart, the history and the height of the yoga via the poetry. Immersed in Anusara yoga since 2000, poetry initially helped me create sacred space and articulate the heart via the postures -which I couldn’t have done without the poetry – in ways that were relevant off the mat.
Recently when I was asked to teach a yoga class wherein I’d invite renowned poets to read to us at pivotal points during class, this circle was completed for me.
Poetry held me aloft in times of certain self-sabotage; it gave voice to my states of being and pointed me toward my heart again and again. Poetry granted me a sense of universally connective direction early in my teaching, and still lives in my heart and my voice. The words led me toward a friendship with myself that is only now coming truly to fruition, 10 years later. But what I needed to fully manifest that friendship, and find my voice as it is now, was an actual map. Poetry opened the door to my heart, but just behind that door was another one, the one that had me keeping all sorts of secrets that I thought were protecting myself and others, and I had no way in.
Finding the work of the Handel Group gave me the keys to that door, by holding up a mirror to the fears that led to the secrets. Those past secrets (from little ones like smoking to big ones like cheating and lying), once unraveled in the process of coaching, have taught me how to tell the truth directly through my most intense and impeding fears. Confessing what I’ve hidden has led to healing, magical conversations with family and friends that I’d never dreamed of having, and revealed a sensation of love that I’ve never known.
To have the privilege of truly designing my life, by writing out my dreams and then bravely living into them, detail by detail, requires a quality of heightened direction and practical momentum inherent to the coaching work. It’s simple direction, and once we have it, we are unstoppable. We have to practice having the craziest conversations, practice coming clean in situations, practice being simultaneously receptive and active with total elegance – it’s just a matter of direction. One thing at a time.
“To gain anything real, long practice is necessary. Try to accomplish very small things first.” – G.I. Gurdjieff
Photo credit: kiwikeith