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Each Experience Deserves its Own Life

February 18, 2011

A couple of days ago, my yoga instructor, Khalil Moutawakkil, said a cool thing.  I had heard versions of it before in Bikram classes, because it is really the central theme of the practice, but not in those words.  He talked about how his practice took a step forward when he realized that he used to measure the success of his class by comparing it to

Khalil Moutawakkil

the one the previous day.  If he could lift himself as far as he could on the last class or be as strong and flexible as yesterday, then he was doing well.  It was when he removed all sense of comparison from his practice that he began to get the most benefit from the yoga.  Each class, each day, is its own experience, one that does not fare well from being contrasted and compared.

When I was running yesterday through the forest, I realized that this same idea can be used for many situations.  I planned to run 7 miles, but my legs were still on the tired side after Sunday’s big extravaganza.  Starting downhill was easy, but then after crossing the creek, I had to go straight up.  My feet kept going despite my body’s overall resistance.  I thought about the strength I felt on my last run, but then dismissed it immediately.  This run had its own life, its own pace that was right for this day.  I ended up running 8 miles and feeling wonderful afterward even though my pace was almost a full minute slower per mile than my previous run.  Who cares?  No one.

I am heading up to the San Francisco Writers Conference in the morning.  Nerves are mixed in with anticipation and excitement.  Will anyone like my pages, will the time and expense be worth it, have I progressed as a writer since this same time last year?  Once again, I will use Khalil’s lesson.  It is useless to compare, as this experience will by definition be an entirely different one.  I will go further and state that comparison may even kill the creative spirit, and relegates that which is spontaneous and springs

My trusty running partner

naturally from the well of one’s heart and mind to something which can be given a value judgement.  Yes, the end result must be judged.  Is the novel good or does it stink?  Is running in itself good for me or not?  Is my Bikram Yoga practice worthy of my efforts.  These judgements can be made, but it is within the art of each of these things that we can lose the self-criticism.  So my first 2 or 3 drafts may be shaky, I might run an 11 minute mile when I am tired, I may not be able to balance in standing forehead to knee today.  So what my friends, the point is to keep on doing whatever it is that floats your boat.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Khalil permalink
    February 22, 2011 7:10 pm

    Julie! I wish I could have written sooner. You definitely got the point and then some. Thank you, as I am honored that this tiny, yet focused beam of light is reflecting to those listening. It wasn’t too long ago that I can remember walking in to nearly every class with an excuse for myself, and even the teacher, as to why I am not at my best, sabotaging my “creative spirit”.
    What a shame! This spirit is our inherent drive, propelling us to become greater in our capacities as yogis, and really, as human beings. When I look back at particular “leaps” or “progressions” of my practice (or my life), they were always sparked by a letting go of what I thought was true. I thought my ankle hurts, I ate too much, I didn’t rest well, or I maybe I had an argument with my partner, all these things that are not in the moment, but the past. I soon found that ridding myself of expectation enabled my yogic spirit to flow from me like a fountain. Instead of “doing” the postures, I felt the postures coming to me, through me, healing me. I allowed my mind to slow down and become peaceful with the practice of the day.

    After-all, it is just that, a daily practice, not a competition. My state of mind started the process of becoming independent of my state of body. And what a gift this was, because no matter how I felt walking into the room, I could enjoy my practice rather than beating myself up because I hadn’t progressed from the day before. And wouldn’t you know it Julie, my postures took off, I saw major changes in my abilities, major breakthroughs in what I had previously thought impossible. I get to walk out of the room nearly every class I take now, feeling alive, confident and content with my 90 minute effort.

    Thank you Julie, for writing the words “so what”. They capture the essence of my point. And now applying this to our lives outside the yoga room is beautiful. Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow! Let the creative spirit flow us like the puppets to our souls.

    “Don’t think, just do”! -Bikram Choudry


    • February 22, 2011 7:16 pm

      Khalil, Thank you for your beautiful and well written response. But most of all thank you for your lovely energy. Consider doing a guest blog on my site. I would love for to share some of your stories with me readers.

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