Bodies and Voices
The Little Thought That Wouldn’t Go Away: Teaching
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST CARYN MIRRIAM-GOLDBERG
I love the moment in the film Babe when the narrator tells how the farmer, played wryly by James Cromwell, cannot stop wondering if he should enter Babe, a pig, into a sheepdog competition.
The farmer tries to push this crazy notion out of his head,“But Farmer Hoggett knew that little ideas that tickled and nagged and refused to go away should never be ignored, for in them lie the seeds of destiny.” Why I love this moment has more to do with the whimsy and delight of seeing a pig herd sheep; indeed, it has everything to do with how we need to pay attention to the tickles and nags of “little ideas” that insist on returning to us until we see our own destiny.
Speaking words to courage
When it came to yoga, I had a little such idea for a long time that persisted despite how I told it, “No, that’s crazy, please go away” repeatedly. In fact, I had this conversation so much with myself that it took me by surprise when I actually said the little idea out loud, and in a somewhat whimsically appropriate place too: in a therapy session.
“I want to be a yoga teacher,” I told my therapist, a woman who had known me for almost two decades and whose wisdom I trusted deeply.
I stammered, caught my breath, amazed I had said this aloud.
The flood of voices in my mind unleashed their words: No, that’s insane, you’re too fat, you can barely hold downward dog for 30 seconds, you’re too old, you don’t look good in yoga pants, you’re too busy, and remember, you hated yoga for years!
But before I could take back what I had just said, my therapist answered me.
“Of course you do,” she replied.
“I do what?” I asked, suddenly confused.
“You want to be a yoga teacher.”
She nodded, and it was time to leave so I left, went to lunch with a friend, and told her of the crazy thing I had just said.
My friend affirmed that I would be a great yoga teacher, and of course I should do this. I tried out the little idea on another friend, then on another. All of them said something to the tune of, “Of course you want to be a yoga teacher.”
Speaking body to voice
A few nights later, I told my husband, someone enternally supportive and patient with my little ideas. “But Caryn, what you do with people has everything to do with voice, not the body. Isn’t becoming a yoga teacher going a different direction?”
“No difference,” I told him.
At that moment, I understood voice and body are integrately related. We can’t recover our voice without recovering our body, and visa-versa.
Furthermore, my story of coming to yoga was precisely what was mirroring my own life path. “You know, many women of our generation lost their voice when growing up,” a good friend told me. “But you didn’t lose your voice. You lost your body.”
Speaking truth to life
I thanked her for her words, my truth, and saw more clearly how coming back to my somewhat abandoned body had been the same journey I’ve witnessed in so many students and workshop participants over the years as they wrote themselves back to the voice they always had.
Whatever part of us is denied, deningrated, or silenced is the source of our greatest wound and our greatest opportunity to heal our lives. For me, speaking out loud the words “I want to be a yoga teacher” was the exact way I needed to let my smart little Babe herd the sheep of my tired old ideas about myself to a new place that, at the same time, was always home.
Saying these words, and then following where they lead, has helped me plant the little wild seeds of my destiny: a destiny all about healing, presence, breath and deep gratitude for the sacredness of living in a body, this body.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.