There’s this saying, something about teachers being the worst students, and I’m so feelin’ it right now.
For my teacher training over at Om Land Yoga, we spent October focusing on the yogic principle of Ahimsa. Ahimsa translates into “nonviolence”, or as I like to think of it “loving kindness”. It’s what drives many yogis to become vegetarians, but the principle goes beyond that. Above all, it means to NOT do damage to yourself or others – physically or spiritually.
I am a quick learner, and usually do well with short, directive mantras. My favorite is Momastery’s “We can do hard things”. So I tried to keep the principle of ahimsa as simple as that. “Loving kindness”, I’ve thought. “You are a beloved child of God”, I’ve reminded myself, practicing loving kindness even when looking at that weird space where my ass meets my thigh and wondering just how it got SO damn close to the ground. I’ve looked at my child and husband and thought “He is a beloved child of God”. ‘Cause God doesn’t care if his beloved children load the fucking dishwasher, right? I keep trying to hold onto the thought, and it keeps slipping from my brain like that cornstarch goop seeps through a small child’s fingers. It’s there, then it’s not. I cannot find my kindness. Also, I kind of want to throw things.
I read one story about a monk and a snake and a village. The monk tells the snake to be kind and not harm others. The monk goes away, but returns some time later to find the snake all bruised and hungry and just NOT in great shape. He queries the snake, and the snake says that because he was no longer scary, the village children began throwing stones at him. Because of this, the snake no longer dared to leave to hunt. The monk responds, “I did advise you against violence, but I never told you not to hiss”.
My hiss needs work. Shouldn’t the hiss be preventative maintenance? That adult thing that communicates boundaries and expectations?
I’m all bite and no hiss, at home at least. Unless you count my refusal to let C purchase Call of Duty: Ghosts. I’m pretty sure that’s setting up some boundaries.
I manage, like many of us, to use up the best version of myself at work. I smile. I’m patient and diligent and thorough. I remember that my students are other people’s children, and that colors every interaction I have throughout the day. I’m having difficulty drumming up this same patience at home, and these are MY people! I am the absolute worst version of myself here. I throw words like irretrievable darts. I wait for a reaction.
I’m not sure this, my sharp tongue and impatient heart, is the result of my inability to hiss, to set expectations and boundaries, or frustration that the hiss isn’t heard. But it surely is NOT the embodiment of ahimsa.
But we are all works in progress.
And while I tell everyone, always, to be kind – I’m trying to narrow my kindness focus this week.