Good and Bad

Yoga Study #1 © 2015 Jane WatermanI wonder why it takes so long to feel compassion for the self?

This was a difficult weekend in some ways. Sharing grief with a heart friend, and then joy with another, as she opened a yoga centre. I took part in many activities to foster both personal growth and community. I pushed myself rather ruthlessly: both my tendency for introversion and fear of my body’s limitations. I took part in yin yoga (encouraging), hatha flow yoga (difficult), movement (very difficult) and chant (soulful). I feel rather shattered now and ready to hide for a week and recover while I process what this all means to me.

One thing I found is that the same constant litany of self-judgement ran through most of my experiences as I watched myself from the outside, the same way as it has since I was a very small child. Indeed, owning my experiences, even writing about them, seems the ultimate in self-indulgence and egoism. I remember in my early twenties as I slowly self-destructed, my much loved best friend of some 10 years accused me of cowardice and egoism as I drifted away from her (and life). I owned her judgement because I felt it must be true.

I felt like a faker, and indeed, when that concept came up in a discussion of movement on the weekend, I wondered if everyone had been able to see through my struggles to reach for feelings, the masks I juggle, and wonder if indeed I was a faker.

I wonder if that feeling of the faker comes from too many years of trying to be what I thought others wanted me to be.  It was my choice (I think), and yet, sometimes the consequences of being “me” seemed too dire to handle.

In one of the personality assessments I took many years ago, it said that my “type” was obsessed with the concepts of good and evil. I can accept that to be true because I was always obsessed with being good, and not being ‘bad’. I wonder if it was that relentless drive for goodness that resulted in my body caving in to autoimmune disease (or whether that would have happened anyway).

As I navigated the weekend, and continued to observe myself – removed from the flow of space, if not time – it seemed that I still battled with this fundamental desire for self-worth and goodness (and consequently rejection of what might be ‘badness’ in me). Like any thing, emotion or belief that is the object of desire or aversion, these opposing drives cause me suffering.

I don’t know that I’ll resolve it yet, or be able to abandon intellect and analysis to the pureness of the present moment. While I hope to experience the latter, I must continue to pursue the middle way, and the avoidance of absolutes. Like good and bad, does intellect exist without emotion? Despite my fear of not being able to feel – and that should give me some proof that all is not lost – am I truly a creature of intellect without feeling?

I think not, as otherwise being alive wouldn’t often hurt so much…