Something happened on the mat this morning that really threw me for a loop. I was in a posture and working to implement guidance I received just a few days ago from the incredible Michael Joel Hall when a thought popped to the forefront of my mind. It went something like this, “alright Cory! You are getting it exactly right — you’re the best student!”. WHAT THE F…..?!?!?! This was quickly followed by internal bells and whistles as I processed this age old pattern within me that I have been working hard to resolve and let go.
You see for as long as I can remember, in all my nearly 49 (yeah, you heard me…) years, I have had this drive within me to please the teachers that I respect. I have this need for their their approval in order to feel valid. And to be honest, I didn’t really see this for what it is — an obstacle on my path — until quite recently. I had this moment just a couple months ago where something in me clicked and I saw myself. I saw this pattern. And it made me want to jump out of my skin. I realized that it’s this pattern is repeating within me because I DON’T TRULY BELIEVE IN MYSELF. I don’t think I’m “good enough”. But, I AM.
In yoga philosophy Patanjali lists ego (asmita) as one of the five kleshas — obstacles to yoga. I’ve studied the sutras for many years, but it wasn’t until just this past year, in a teaching from David Garrigues, that it hit home that this obstacle can also present in the form of not enough ego — a lack of self esteem. Many of us walk around each day encountering moments of lack without an appreciation of its inner source nor impact on our being.
Recently I was listening to an interview with a Buddhist teacher – David Loy. He published a book on the subject of lack. In the interview he described three types of dukkha (stress/suffering): (1) pain, both physical and mental; (2) impermanence; (3) delusion of separation. He asserted that our construct of self is inherently insecure because there’s nothing real (permanent) there, but we’re socialized to think that there is. Because there is nothing there that could be secured we experience it as a sense of lack — “I’m not good enough” — not enough money, love, fame, reputation…. So many “lack” projects. He said this isn’t just an individual problem, but a societal one that upon which consumerism feeds. Our economic capitalist system depends on LACK.
Definitely feels to me that he’s on to something big — and it seems to me that the more privileged we are (and let’s face it, so many of us are quite privileged) the more barraged with obstacles to wholeness we’re confronted with on a rapid fire, daily basis.
So, you know what, I’m gonna turn my lack project on its head and start believing in myself. I am determined to uproot this groove of needing someone else to tell me I am good enough. (Just in time too, since I’m about to embark on a new venture: ASHTANGA NASHVILLE). And I hope that any of you who are struggling with this affliction will join me.
**You too can practice with Michael Joel Hall of DC Ashtanga at his new beautiful space in the Eaton Wellness Center at 12th & K St NW in Washington, DC