This past weekend, I taught the first class in a three-week restorative yoga series. Our focus for week one? Meditation techniques.
So we gazed into the sri yantra. We played singing bowls and Tibetan hand cymbals. We created a sea of oms that lasted for five minutes. I talked them through a loving-kindness meditation and through some breathing exercises. We even stood in a circle and walked around and around and around for a few minutes, in slow motion, so they could get a taste of walking meditation.
But before we did all that, we talked about the WHY of meditation.
So here’s the thing. According to the literature out there, when we are born, we are born pure. Whole.
As we make our way through life, however, our experiences bury that original Self in layers. We learn new ways of responding to the world. We learn how to label the things around us. We learn how to label ourselves.
But these labels we give to ourselves are not us.
If we hold onto them, however, we can come to embody them. If we hold onto them, they can eventually strangle us.
To give you an example, one label I have identified with my entire life is SHY. My parents worried over my SHYNESS early on, clipping articles on what to do when your child doesn’t speak. In Kindergarten, my teacher tried to use my SHYNESS as a means of holding me back one year (an option my parents ultimately decided against). My sixth grade homeroom teacher made me self-conscious about my SHYNESS when she told me I should read less and socialize more. As time passed, I never raised my hand in class. I built myself into a frenzy of anxiety before oral presentations. I avoided parties.
As an adult, I still struggle with public speaking, networking events, and all other occasions in which I am required to interact with others. After all, I’m SHY.
But while SHY may describe me some of the time, it’s not all that I am. If it was, how could you explain how I’ve thrived in my Toastmasters club? How I get lonely and depressed if I let too much time pass without leaving the house? How I became a yoga teacher, someone who gets up in front of groups of people on a regular basis and leads them in a process of self-discovery?
How might I grow even more if I dismissed the label entirely?
When we meditate, we are peeling back the layers we’ve built up around our true selves, discarding the labels.
Which labels is it time for you to discard?
P.S. You can still attend the two remaining classes in my three-week series. Click here for more information.