Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Look Up, Not Sideways.

I read an article in the Ensign last month titled "Look Up".  It really stood out to me not only because of the analogies it made spiritually but the ways I thought of applying the same concept physically, to dance and Yoga (and most anything else you want to apply it to).

It talks about not looking to the side and comparing ourselves to others and how they are doing but looking up and focusing on how the Lord feels we are doing.  In life, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc., we should not look sideways to what others are doing around us but instead focus on doing our personal best.  I see this often in teaching dance.  My students want to do a move the way someone else does it and sometimes it just is not going to happen for them, at least not now.  We have to learn patience with ourselves and to act in our own timing.  Some things will come naturally and you will catch on to right away while other things you will really work at in order to master, if that is really what you want.

We often feel that others are judging us and our capabilities.  I know I am guilty of that.  I can think of a few times I just knew people were thinking I was weak because of something I wasn't getting right away in class.  Even if they were judging me that is not what matters..."Try not to look sideways to see how others are viewing [your life] but look up to see how Heavenly Father sees [you]." Does it really matter what they think anyways?  Our Heavenly Father is the one we should be trying to please not the strangers around us and often times we get upset over certain things that don't even matter.  "It's easy to get caught up in trying to please others, but we can't trust such external measurements; the world can be too quick both to praise and to criticize."

In Yoga it is said that you are your best teacher.  The instructor can help guide your practice but they do not know exactly what is going on in your body and what you are feeling.  Only you know how certain poses feel and whether they feel good or not.  Therefore we must learn to be receptive to our own feelings and as we do so "we'll be able to act on impressions we receive".  We will then know our limits and we'll know when we are ready to take it farther, acting on those impressions.  Eventually "we'll be able to do the difficult things" we once thought were impossible for us and "to do, for the right reasons, whatever is required".  You must remember though, the difference between uncomfortable and painful.  I have heard teachers telling their students "it's going to hurt but get over it, you're going to have pain".  That statement makes me cringe.  We need to understand it is okay to be uncomfortable and you may get a little bruise or scratch here and there and, for your own good, some soreness, yes...get over that.  However, when something actually becomes painful that is when you need to listen to your body and stop or else your body will force you to stop and that is not fun... I know by experience.

"Sometimes others would dissuade us from acting on what we receive, and even if they have good intentions, we need to be true to what we have felt."  I've had experiences in dance and in life where someone tried to get me to do something that I wasn't ready to do or I felt I shouldn't do for whatever reason.  This is when we really need to stand firm on the impressions we receive and not let others influence us.  Physically, you know when it hurts, your body tells you when to stop... others cannot know that for yourself, listen to your body.  Spiritually, we all have a conscience (or Holy Spirit) telling us what is right and what is wrong for us... others do not know what you're feeling in your gut, listen to your conscience... listen to that Spirit.

Lastly though, "don't be afraid to make choices because you are afraid of making mistakes."  Oftentimes we're too afraid to try something new because we fear failure.  You will never know how far you can go in a pose (in Yoga) if you never even attempt the pose.  You're going to mess up, you're going to fall.  Get back up, do NOT turn your head sideways comparing yourself to others around you who are standing strong but rather think about what you yourself can do better next time to stand strong.  Know yourself, know your limits and know how to listen and be receptive to how far you can take things and how to improve.

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