Training Wheels

I was leaving for yoga class the other night and my girls were out riding their bikes.  It was time for me to get on the road and I wanted to drive past them on my way, just to let them know I was leaving, and say good bye.  I knew I would get yelled at later if I left without telling them.

I drove down the block, about ten houses away or so, and I saw them.  Maggie was riding her bike with a big smile on her face.  She stopped and said “Hi, Mommy” as I told her I was heading to class and just wanted to say goodbye.   There was Shannon a couple of houses behind her, struggling on her bike with a very concerned look on her face.

“What’s the matter, Shoo?” I asked her.

“It’s this training wheel!” she said, as she stopped moving and planted her feet on the ground, straddling the bike with great frustration.  “It’s just like Katey!

What?  A training wheel was like Katey? Katey is a friend of hers at school.  Her current BFF, actually.

“What? What are you talking about?”   I didn’t have long because I was in the middle of the street, and I was running late for class.  But, I had an idea of what she meant, and I was already having a moment of zen.

She let out a big sigh,  “Huhhhhhh.  It’s just like Katey!  I think she’s my friend, I think she’s helping me, but she’s really holding me down, and making things harder for me. She keeps me from being friends with other people, and doing things I want to do.”

Wow! What an amazing nine year old she is.  She is struggling to ride her bike up a long hill, struggling to keep up with her big sister, all the while fighting with this training wheel.  I think she is amazingly perceptive and self aware to make that jump from the training wheel to her friend, especially in the middle of this struggle.

It is exactly like the breakthroughs we have on our yoga mats!  I was standing against the wall in Tadasana (mountain pose) the other day, my heels against the wall, tailbone tucked and against the wall, shoulder blades, back of my head, backs of my palms against the wall.  It was the straightest-tallest-strongest Tadasana ever. “This is what Tadasana is”, I told my class.  This is the truth. It’s not an easy pose at all.  It is quite a lot of work to stand in a true Tadasana, honoring the pose.   The wall doesn’t lie.

I then told everyone that we were going to step away from the wall and find our Tadasana there, “because it’s more comfortable for me to stand in the middle of the mat with my lies”.   And then I held out my two hands and said “Mat” as I extended one, and “Life”, extending the other.  I always do this when I have a little epiphany while teaching.   This physical action marks it in my mind.   It may seem like a passing remark to people in the class, but for me it is a mental note: Save this one for later. This is your lesson for today.  Immediately after class, I try to give it at least a few minutes of my time, a bit of analysis, and I let it start “marinating” in my head.  The little connection has been made, and later, when I have more time to think about, it will most likely connect to several different aspects of my life

Mat….life. I was holding onto the idea that my Tadasana was my best Tadasana, when the wall of truth had made it obvious that it could be much different.  Will I listen to the wall, and make the necessary adjustments, and grow?  Or will I hold onto my old idea of the pose?  What else am I holding onto that I don’t need?

What are you holding onto? What are you leaning on?  Is there something that you think is keeping you safe, but is really holding you back, and keeping you from growing?  Is there something that you think is doing you some good, but is really harming you?  Is there something or someone that you have in your life that is no longer serving you in a positive way? That is not allowing you to follow your true intentions? To pursue your own dharma?  (John said we should just keep Sir Arthur Guinness out of this conversation, for my own good.)

Mat…life.  Bicycle…life.   I learned later that the very moment that Shannon, my little Zen master got home, she insisted that John take the training wheel off. Immediately!   She struggled to keep her balance for quite some time, and didn’t completely succeed, but she did not want to put that wheel back on.  NO WAY!

She knew that she was done with it. Forever!  I am wondering what she will say to Katey at school on Monday.

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