I really can’t remember a time that I didn’t know my right from my left. When I was very young, maybe two or three, I learned it. I felt it. I knew it. And that’s all there is to it. It is truth. This is my right —>. That is my left <—. Simple truth. It never changes
I’ve been teaching yoga to children for close to two years. Some of them are only five years old and just learning this basic, absolute truth about right and left. If I were to stand in front of the room facing them, telling them to raise their right hand while raising my right hand, many of them would raise their left hand. They would do this because they are much more visual learners at this age, and they’re watching more than listening.
I have to mirror them. So every day, I say Reach your right hand up to sky, while I raise my left, or Turn to face the left side of the room, while I face right. I do the exact opposite of what I am saying. Sometimes hundreds of times in one day. It took me a while to get used to this, but now it comes naturally.
About two weeks ago while I was taking a yoga class, I realized that I had my right leg forward in Warrior I when the rest of the room had their left foot forward. I quickly adjusted myself. Later in the class when everyone was twisting to the left, I was twisting to the right. I adjusted myself again. I figured it was just one of those days. I was in some other place. Not completely focused on the teacher’s voice. Not present on my mat.
Then it happened again in the next class I took. And the next. This past Friday night, in a community class, I realized that every time the teacher said right arm or right leg or right anything, I was instinctively thinking to the left. Instinctively. And I had to stop myself, and go for the right side. Every single time.
Something that I have known to be true my whole entire life has changed. I have trained myself to believe that my right hand is my left hand, my left foot is my right. I reconditioned myself into believing that right is left and left is right, because that is what I need it to be when I teach.
I’m not sure why this surprises me. I know that these things happen. We can convince ourselves of just about anything. There was a time when repeating the Ganesh mantra throughout the course of the day began to change my life, even though I had no idea what the words really meant. Because it was what I needed at the time.
When I was regularly practicing Yoga Nidra, my sankalpa “I will make good choices” became my mantra. I was repeating it any time I was faced with a choice, and I made good choices. Not always, but more often that I had been. And I kept saying it, even if my choices at the moment weren’t so good, because it was what I needed to believe at the time.
I know that if I say something over and over and over again it can become my truth. I can change my reality. And this sudden left-right confusion has driven the point home once again.
I’ve been thinking a lot about sankalpas since I am going to start teaching yoga nidra soon. I’m still searching for a new sankalpa of my own, the one I need right now.
When I find it, I will make it a part of my life; repeat it in my mind while I perform tasks, say it with each step when I walk, recall it with each bite of food I eat. I will make it my password so I have to type it every day. I will set it to music and sing myself to sleep with it.
I will say it over & over again, even if it is the opposite of what I am doing. Until it is my new truth.