the love we give
i am teaching a new vinyasa flow class at my studio. this class is inspired by a weekend i spent in new orleans with the fabulous women of NYC’s Laughing Lotus. the Laughing Lotus style was empowering and freeing. there was chanting, large soulful music, expression of our gifts, even singing while in asana. there was a special part of the class, towards the end, where the teacher would call us from our mats into a “yoga huddle” to share something she had learned that week in her personal journey, followed by instruction on an intricate partner pose that draws the class into a sharing space to support one another in learning something new. after this enchanting weekend together, my teacher offered me a sunday morning teaching spot.
prior to this i had only worked with the children. my kids’ class is growing. these beautiful little souls have taught me confidence in leading a class. they have taught me to find the energy that’s needed to affect people, and share it. each week brings something new. it’s been interesting to consider how they say “what you are teaching is what you need to learn.”
for my soulful vinyasa class i found my first lesson in love. i resonated with: “the love that makes you happy is the love you give away.” in my fantasy of designing this class i imagined a room full of students. i thought about how i wanted to share this and how we’d generate love to give to ourselves, each other, someone we love, someone who is suffering, a crisis somewhere outside of our immediate attention. i spent days creating the perfect playlist of heart opening music to inspire the soul to sing. it was all really lovely, and completely overlooked the fact that i was teaching in a new time slot, kind of early on sunday mornings. when only 1 student turned up for my first class, i laughed at my shortsightedness and proceeded to deliver really lovely class tailored to needs of my student sans share time. he loved the music and had a ton of positive feedback about the energy of the class. ever since, i have been thinking about being present to experience the happiness of the love i give away.
i’ve been personally challenged in the last several days. before receiving news that broke my heart, i was in a less than resourceful state. i had been experiencing another prolonged bout of insomnia, suffering springtime allergies for the first time in my life, attempted a liver cleanse, had pms, intolerance with my employer, ups and downs of dating… ehhhh… nothing super major but irritating enough, finding myself in somewhat of a valley cycle of life. the news came to me saturday morning. this was my first weekend of no teacher training so i had committed myself to a weekend of catch up. “life delivers us challenges when we are ready to face them.” i was up to my elbows in spring cleaning when my brother called. after we got off the phone, i had 3 challenges to face – teaching yoga to children, teaching vinyasa flow the next morning, and tending to the business we’d just discussed the following afternoon. i had no idea where the energy would come from in order to succeed in these tasks. in fact, i was quite terrified i would be a mess of tears at all 3 events.
i made a decision to serve my students. the time they spent with me was not about me at all. i needed and wanted to give. i had one of the most connected classes with my kids that day. i was a mess in the car ride home but i was satisfied i had shared with those kids. the next morning i was not ready to teach vinyasa flow. i had gotten out of bed at 5 a.m. and was dreading the events of the afternoon. i drove to the studio hoping no one would show up for my class. instead, i had 2 students. again, i channeled service to my students and gave a great class. in fact, one of my students, who is also a friend, told me after class that she was in such a state before my class and that my class was exactly what she needed. she commented that i had shared so much energy in the class. i was completely shocked. literally had to pry my jaw off the floor in order to leave the studio. in deciding to use only my heart, i had reached far beyond what my mind believed for myself.
my 3rd attempt at giving love away was not as successful. i’ve been learning to recognize distinctions* and this one was hard for me to understand before getting a full night of sleep (yay for sleeping last night!). some people cannot accept love. these people may be full of ego, they may be sick, they may be abusive, they may be insecure, they may be unhappy, they may be mean, they may be victims, they may be jealous, they can be a whole host of things that are unresourceful and toxic. it can become confusing to distinguish the line between giving love and being compassionate. i have struggled to define this in the relationship i speak of because there is a sense of obligation to this inherited** relationship and an honest desire to give love to a person who has none. i suggest the line is drawn when the recipient resents the love you give. my experience on sunday was harmful to me and possibly brought more suffering to the recipient. possibly the love to give to him is the love i give from afar. this is probably the most compassionate too. if he comes back to me in a more resourceful state, possibly i can give directly to him again. this feels good.
if we only focus on love we give, we can be happy. this love is so grand because the ego never gets involved. it is pure, it surprises us, it teaches us things, it never considers what we get in exchange, and most importantly it has no expectations attached to it.
give love. be happy. be free.
*without explanation, which would be negative, i will share something that was recently illustrated in my life: there is a difference between a snake and a serpent, and the distinction is important.
**inherited strikes me as an interesting word to consider in the context of our relationships and loyalties. to be inherited does not mean to be worthy.