Recently I had the space to take class from a teaching mentor I practice with too infrequently. During and after the class I was struck by the power of simple observation.
While encouraging us to circle our arms widely to explore our range of motion, the teacher made a brief but notable caution to listen for any “clicking” sensation in the shoulder and honor it by pausing rather than just pushing through. It was such a simple instruction, but so on point. As a former marathon runner, I have conditioned myself to push through discomfort: Yes my knee hurts, but we only have four more miles to go...Just because it is 90 degrees and 85 percent humidity doesn’t mean I need to slow down... And I know I am not alone in falling into this mindset in daily life.
When I practice at home, I love to move through poses and experiment with transitioning from one to the next. I don’t rush, but I often focus so much on where I want to go next that I don’t observe my body in the moment. In doing so, I am guilty of ignoring the subtle signals my body is sending me: Yes my wrist is sore, but I really want to work on my handstand... Sure a block would be helpful here, but it is all the way upstairs and I don’t have time to stop...
But under the attentive guidance of a seasoned teacher, I found myself really listening to my body. I surrendered to her gentle, yet firm command of the class and alternately held back and pushed forward when and where it was needed. And in doing so, everything about even the most basic poses felt somehow new and different. I left the classes feeling grounded and more aware of myself and my surroundings.
Can you slow down enough to observe yourself as you go through your day? What might you see or experience differently?