Doing It Wrong

posted May 21, 2012, 7:43 AM by P Lebau   [ updated Sep 16, 2013, 11:02 AM ]

Doing it wrong                                                   Blog 1                 

Stand in tadasana.  Feet below hips, legs and glutes firm, lift the sternum, tuck the ribs, relax the shoulders and reach up through energized fingertips. As you root down through your strong feet, connect with the mat.  In the mind is the strong and ever present need to do it right, to follow the instructions, to be a good student. 

Being good students.  We are all superbly trained in school to be good students.  We are taught so much information: the “what” of school.  Country names, historical facts, how to construct a proper sentence, chemistry, biology, math. We are also taught very deeply – conditioned in-  the “how” of school.  The school process.  How to sit and watch ourselves learning and how to make sure we are in the mind frame of doing it right.  We are graded every single day.  And so we are taught to develop a constant inner dialogue about how we are doing. “Did I get an A on that?  If not, what did I do wrong?  Oh man, I keep getting C’s; there must be something wrong with me.”  “I’m going to fail this test; I am a failure.”  “I am getting an A on this test.  I am a success.” 

 We are trained very, very deeply and well to have a strong inner judge.   

And so we are really good at grading ourselves in every aspect of life.  Sometimes this mind chatter is in the awareness, like when we do something really well: “wow nice,” and the little glow of success graces the whole of the body mind.  Sometimes this mind chatter is in the awareness as when we do something not so well: “oh man you did that?” Embarrassment.  What a chilling showstopper of an emotion.  The dense fear of being banished.

 What of doing it wrong?  What happens during a yoga pose taken mindfully but in odd alignment.  There is a lesson here.  The lesson might be, “Oh that is why we do it the other way.”  Or, the lesson might be, “gee, this way feels really different  – there’s another set of muscles engaging and relating to each other.  Interesting.” The lesson might even be, “this feels better.”  And then the inquiry becomes, “Why does this feel better for me like this.”  And, of course, “Am I doing it wrong?  What is wrong with me?”

Recently I had the experience of doing Janusirsasana (head towards knee pose) wrong.  I embarked down the path into the posture.  This is sort of a long path for me, including rest stops at the seat, the spinal lift, the initial fold, the belly reach towards the knee, and then the sweet wandering way of head towards knee.  A very nice journey, with lots of mind stuff of “ahh that’s right” as alignment works in and the body melts into length.  Another way I metaphorically experience this pose is as an architectural experience.  Each body part is a room or passageway to the next space.  Seat is the entry.  Spine is the long elegant hallway.  Head is the kitchen, the room where such delicious concoctions are created.  Arms are the cooling system.  Nerves, the electrical system.  Sighs are the music filling the space.  And the full expression of the pose is the stable structure, creaking and settling over time.  So this day I opened the door and started into the sanctuary of this space.  Good intentions and blessings for all who enter, right?

Well, this day I was sore and a bit tired and, frankly, PMSing.  So I just did it wrong.  I didn’t bother with the twist of belly towards knee.  I flopped rather curmudgeonly forward, surrendering to a somewhat cranky mindspace of “fuck alignment.  Fuck doing it right.  Let the structure slip into the mud.  Let  me just veer off the path like a kid following a bug in the woods. I’m just going to do what comes which seems to be this odd halfway version of the fucking fold.  Fuck.”  I suppose it was a day to have a confrontation with my inner judge, huh?  I had to basically tell it to shut up, perhaps because there was no family member around to perimenopausally tell to shut up.  Have you been there?  No?  Ahh, well have you ever had a two year old (or perhaps a 14 year old, lol) follow you from room to room just so they can once again fold their arms and turn their back on you and go “harrumph.”  Yeah.  Like that.  I followed my inner teacher all around the house of that pose turning my back in each room.

Yeah so after having that (mostly sub-awareness) conversation with myself, I oozed down into that half posture.  One leg bent and the the other stretched out, but instead of folding toward the extending leg, just chucking away the twist and leaning forward.  Then ten minutes passed while each breath took me further and further from the “correct” alignment.  I just did it wrong.  So wrong.  Slowly my torso shifted from between the extended legs to over the bent knee.  The extended leg got a good tractioning.  Got a real good tractioning.  Got a – what? This was surprising - healing tractioning!  Felt really really really good!!!  Felt. Healing.

 It was healing to do it wrong.  It was healing to let go the judge for one brief respite.  It was new.  There was some moderate friction, some mental heat,  as I shoved the judge over in its seat a few times.  It felt. It felt.  New.

I did it wrong and it was right.  I am more aware now of the power of the judge.  It is the octopus on my face covering eyes, ears and nose with its tentacles so familiar I hardly perceive they are there as I say, “judge?  What judge? I’m just trying to do it right.”

Doing it wrong.  Letting go of the inner judge.  Unlearning.  Testing the learning.  Direct personal experience.  Unlearning to learn.  Becoming deeply aware of prior learning to see what has become so deeply ingrained that it is not in conscious awareness.  This.  Bringing into conscious awareness that which had been unnoticed.  Noticing.  Appreciating.  Refining.  Relearning.  A lifetime of learning.  Ommmmmmmm.

P Lebau,
Jun 2, 2015, 4:40 AM