While staying in Newcastle for a few days recently, I decided to do some yoga classes there.
Admittedly, I’m out of touch; I don’t often get to a class. It seems not as easy as I remember to simply ‘drop in’ to a class. One must navigate websites and FB pages and ‘sign in’ or subscribe rather than simply ringing up. So I ended up in on-line chats with studio directors. I was surprised that the people with whom I chatted became very deferential when I stated my name. ‘Your reputation precedes you,’ said one. Another invited me to her yoga studio to practice with her instead of doing a class.
I wondered why I was feeling flattered. Am I an amazing yogi? What did I do to deserve such regard?
I finally worked it out when I was having lunch with my dear friend, someone who is of an even more advanced age than I. She said that a young couple had been sort of courting her (my word), and she couldn’t imagine why twenty-something-year-olds wanted her friendship. They kept telling her how ‘amazing’ she is.
Well, I get that, too. I was dubbed a yoga ‘pioneer’ in a magazine article more than a decade ago. There have been interviews in magazines and podcasts. Without false modesty, I think there are so many more interesting and accomplished yoga practitioners than I.
But what my friend and I have in common is having lived long lives, are still standing and mostly compos mentis (she more than I).
I think in this day and age, we are looking for mentors and elders. We might not know we have this need. We might be looking in the wrong places: webinars, self-help books, social media.
We have to be very discerning when seeking out elders. One giveaway of elderhood is the acceptance of age. No one wants to become infirm in body and mind but there’s a grace that comes with acceptance of wrinkles, grey and thinning hair and stiffening joints.
Yes, I think that a hallmark of an elder is acceptance of imperfection, one’s character flaws and personal failings…you know, warts and all. Foibles and follies when cooked in the cauldron of life experience can create something like wisdom.
I’m still in elder training, not that I’m not old enough. The thing that I’m learning and trying to practice is authenticity, speaking my mind, hopefully without doing any harm, and holding to values without being rigid. Performing yoga poses is easy compared to this late stage of focus. It takes perseverance to keep after the truth; for me, it’s often still buried under conditioning and wanting to please.
Once committing to speaking one’s truth, it’s clear, there’s no turning back. Even a little practice with this, uncomfortable as it is at the time, is ultimately rewarding. Maybe one day I’ll be deserving of the kind of high regard that I bestow on my nonagenarian friend. Until then, we both joke and say, ‘We’re amazing!’
Have you had this ‘you’re amazing’ kind of experience? When you hear it, do you think it’s true? Love to hear from you.