“And we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them.”
From Stephen Schwartz’ song “For Good” from “Wicked.”
The student- teacher relationship, for me, is an extremely powerful one. I see it as a transformative dialogue where growth can explode in exponential ways.
I have had fascinating experiences with teachers since becoming a yogin. And I truly believe a great teacher is listening to how much a student is willing to leap and at what pacing.
When Sianna met me during a week long training, after seeing my hand placement on my mat, she walked over to me and had me do the first demo, and it was a handstand. Elena, commented immediately on my hands and then on my handwriting. Then, the following day, from clear across the room, walked over and told me to demonstrate a handstand simply by saying, “come into your pose.” The Master Iyengar teacher put me in Savasana after my third pose. Seane said, “I need to be careful with what I say to Jill because she will take that instruction and do it to the 900th degree.” Matthew Sanford said, “don’t rip through your strength.” Darren said, “it’s just like Jill to use the word ‘FIERCE.’”
My physical therapist was helping me today because my iliotibial band is in major spasm after I have been attempting to strengthen my adductor which has been weakened after my last surgery. He said that it feels like I have “LINEBACKER legs!” Now isn’t that just what every woman wants to hear?
I’d like to know how this is possible. I have been convalescing for six months now. How is it that I have “linebacker legs” and not atrophied ones? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with the size or shape of my legs (although I wouldn’t mind if they were a little less bowed). I don’t have body dysmorphia. I am just completely perplexed and I’m certainly not happy about the I.T. spasms!
I have to negotiate with my Physical Therapist quite a bit. He tends to go in very aggressively to address the pain I am experiencing. And while the “fierce” Linebacker may have once been on board, the spirit inside that is trying to heal the body cannot line up with this approach. I grip and fight and resist and everything gets worse as a result. And then we are not in good relationship to one another. So, lately I have been teaching him how to better “treat” me so that we can get further along in my treatment. And it’s working.
It’s working because I’ve been well informed by many of my teachers. They have all shown me that I need to learn how to “do less.”
My teacher Desiree said of me: “I’ve never seen someone so aware of what they need to change, and so willing.”
For the last seventeen years I have suffered from severe migraines. There was an entire year of my life in which I underwent so many forms of treatment that I was being treated with cancer (palliative) drugs because nothing would break the pattern of pain I was experiencing.
After all of these years, I have learned how to manage my migraines quite well and function exceptionally. Yet, there remains a particular migraine which comes upon me and stays for a long time (the longest was 42 days) and it is excruciating. It always starts in my left eye and it is as if a javelin is being driven in the eye for 24 hours/day. Then the pain travels down my neck, jaw, into my teeth, shoulder, down my arm, into my trapezius and directly behind my heart. Believe me, the symbolism is not lost on me.
Once I was with Desiree during days and days of having this pattern and on the final day of practice, the migraine was so bad I was losing my vision. I decided to just listen to the sound of her voice and I kept my eyes closed through the entire practice. I meditated throughout and as tears streamed down my face from the pain I was in, I “asked the pain to go away” and for a while, it did. It was a gift. All of it.
This morning, I felt into the “eye” of the pain again. And something new came to me. Something connected to having these linebacker legs. Something connected to having been told I can “do less.” I recalled Christina telling me I was “over-achieving.” Anodea telling me to soften and “let go of the armor.” And my Iyengar teacher asking me if my quads were always so “over-developed.” So as I felt the pain in my eye which has not left me for nearly a week now, I realized something big. Perhaps this pain is the result of not knowing how to surrender to “guidance.”
The sixth chakra is the command center. It is the center of light, purpose, insight, guidance, wisdom. It is where we find our stillness. And becoming STILL allows us to SEE CLEARLY. (Hard to see clearly when gripping in pain.)
The sixth chakra is the chakra of intuition. I listen well to my intuition. But where I am blocked, where I don’t “see clearly,” is in allowing myself to be guided and held by god.
I spoke about my faith. And how I know I have it. But what I can see in this is that there is a block. Still.
It’s similar to how I found my “block” at the Rope Wall. How I realized I didn’t know how to allow myself to be HELD, because that too, was a block for me... A first Chakra block. So healing can come from being held or healed by a parent and/or in allowing yourself to be held or healed by god.
The sixth chakra is the place where we recognize our patterns and it gets shut off if there are things we don’t want to see.
I am sensing that my ocular (eye) migraine is a “fight” I haven’t fully unravelled yet. But it is a pattern which does not serve me. But a pattern I have used in order to survive my first chakra (self-preservation) and third chakra (ego identity and boundaries) wounding and therefore, I have not found a way to surrender in body or in spirit to my higher spirit guides (sixth chakra).
What I have known to do is grip, drag my body through by using my strength and my WILL rather than surrendering.
When Sianna and Elena saw my hands, they responded to an adeptness. Something they knew they could rely upon. Like on a battlefield. But once upon telling Elena, “I have no stability in my feet,” she responded “That’s probably why you’re so strong.” She KNEW it was a response of overcompensation. So from there, I knew I could grow. Because there was no veil.
If a teacher simply told me that I was strong- I would not go back and continue with him or her. Because I know who I am. And I know the places inside of me which are asking to grow, to be knocked off center, which are over-achieving, which need integrating, which need humility, guidance, love, breath, and I also know the places which simply want to play. I also know the people I can ask to usher me into these places with honor and with skill. And it is for this knowledge and this joint effort that I am most grateful.
For today, what I will ask is this:
God, dear god, come sit in my heart.
And in yours.