Get Out of Your Own Way.
Tonight in yoga class I really got to thinking about this phrase, as the instructor reminded me about it. To set the scene I was wearing my glasses during the day. Since it is a hot yoga class, I took of my glasses during my practice and wasn’t 100% blind, but things were definitely blurry. I could make out shapes, colors, and movements that we were supposed to be doing, but details of the shapes and movements were not distinguishable. When our instructor, Chantel, was telling us to get out of our own way and try to go deeper in the pose, something clicked with me. I was doing exactly that [getting out of my own way], but I didn’t realize it.
I started thinking, I really can’t see myself in the mirror. I know I exist because I can see my hands and legs, but I couldn’t say I existed in the mirror, simply because I couldn’t see that far. I couldn’t really tell how far people around me were going into poses. All I could really focus on was really about 5–8 inches in front of me and around me. I am about 6' 3 inches or 6' 4 inches, I guess depending on which Smith’s Grocery store I walk out of. So 5 to 8 inches doesn’t really let you see a lot. Now I could basically see what I was doing but the crispness and sharpness disappears around that range. If you are reading this and have had perfect 20/20 vision your whole life, you might not be able to relate to this yet. But what I soon realized was that once you took away all of the external information away from the yoga class and my surroundings you really start to get out of your own way. Why, you might ask? Well for one you don’t know what the teacher is really doing, you don’t really know what the other students are doing around you and in some cases I didn’t necessarily know what I was doing. To add some perspective this class takes place after sunset, so it isn’t heavily light. It is kind of dark. But not pitch black. What I found was that once you take all of that external information out of the situation and out of your field of view you really can focus on yourself. You take all of that judging that you might have and impose on yourself away. You take all of that judging from what the teacher is doing in relation to you and throw it away. Because really, I can’t tell what anyone else is doing. So how can I be doing it wrong? How can I be not listening to my body? How can I not be feeling the sensations of what feels right and what doesn’t? Those were really the only senses that I had, listening to my body and feeling my body.
I couldn’t tell you how I looked from the outside meaning, was I in the full expression or was I in perfect alignment. I don’t know these answers. I couldn’t see myself in the mirror to impose that judgement on myself. What I really learned in class was what Chantel was telling me. Get out of your own way. This example is really a microcosm of a macrocosm of life. If you are to busy looking at yourself and at where you currently are, or looking at your other peers, or looking at your mentors or teachers, and wondering why they are ahead of you in the “game of life” or why they might be behind you in the “game of life”, then you are not setting yourself up to succeed. You are using external information to create an ideal of what “life” should look like or what your yoga practice should look like. But I know that if I were to head down their paths or judge myself because they are further than me in life, then I am not accomplishing anything. I am in fact getting in my way. I am putting up barriers, blocks and hurdles in front of me.
My journey is my journey. I am definitely not afraid to say that and admit it. But if I use external information as my only guide, then how could I ever move forward? In each yoga class you make micro advancements and over time you see these micro advancements turn into small advancements and over time you see these small advancements turn into medium advancements, etc. You see where I am going with this? But if you are constantly basing your advancements or lack of advancements on what others are doing around you in life or the work place, you won’t be able to move forward. Because you will constantly be using them as a reference to your progress, but life and progress don’t work like that. You are fighting against the way life fundamentally works. I have learned in life that there are times to fight things and there are times not to fight things. Progress is definitely the later. You don’t want to directly fight progress. You want to ride progress like a surfer riding a wave. You don’t want to fight all of the shit and challenges that are trying to force you under the water. Rather you want to understand that they exist, acknowledge that you are in a challenge and that there is an extreme force trying to drown you. You want to glide on top of the water, feel the heat from the sun, see the beautiful barrel, make micro adjustments, not focus on what could be, what other surfers have done with that same wave, etc. See when you free yourself to look around, to not judge yourself and get out your way, you end up taking yourself higher. You go above all of the other noise that external information that says you aren’t good enough and are lacking in some way fades below you. You do this by letting all of that go and taking in the experience. You start to rise above and ride the wave, a.k.a the challenge. You start to notice, hey I can finally move my leg a bit more horizontal in the pigeon pose, or hey this fiftieth plank that Chantel has us doing doesn’t seem so unreasonable. Because I don’t have any external information to validate that is crazy or difficult [i.e. seeing others in class quitting or stopping]. If you can’t see others quitting, stopping or struggling how do you even know that it is difficult? Well your body may try to trick you, so you look around and analyze are others struggling? Are they staying strong? Well if you can’t see, then you don’t know. If you can’t see then who says that is isn’t possible?
In the end, when you get out of your own way, all you are left with is yourself that is devoid of judgement and free to do anything that you believe is possible. I will finish with this question. Are you willing to blur your own vision and just focus on what you need to do?