Have you ever idealized a person so much you never thought they'd also have a soft spot?
I have this cousin who is 6 years older then me and I used to think she was the coolest person in the whole world ! I wanted to be like her when I grew up. When I looked at her through my teenage eyes I saw this strong, tough, cool girl exploding with personality. She had every piercing you can imagine, all the coolest tatoos and every year she'd change the color of her hair..hot pink, fluorescent blue, orange, green..shaved head, mohawk..you name, it she had it!
This weekend she flew into New York from Italy for the first time ever in her life. She had never been to the States before, and she has never spoken english before...or heard it spoken so much either.
I went to greet her at the airport..there she was in her best attire, with all her piercings, tattoos and funky hair... Only this time something about her was different. Standing there by herself she looked so little and fragile in all this color of hers. Surrounded by a foreign sound, tall people, and a new foreign world she looked humble. I just wanted to hug her, I had never seen her this way.
You see my cousin did something brave, she traveled by herself to an unknown continent, she did something that was out of her comfort zone, she went out of her way, and this softened her.
Yesterday I went to listen to Lady Ruth's talk at The Shala. She was talking about the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. In the second chapter of this big book of secrets on the practice of yoga, Swami Muktibodhananda gives a description of how the space for practice should be. Amongst other details he says that there should be a small door. In order to get into the room the yogi must get down close to the earth, become small, as if bowing down. Lady Ruth was pointing out that This action of bowing down and coming close to the ground is a very humbling action. It humbles the ego, it puts you in a place of vulnerability.
As Ruth talked i imagined my cousin standing there...just like she always has, but something about the energy in her presence was different. There was a softness to her, a sweetness I had never seen. No matter how scary it was for her to take this leap, she did it, she allowed her tough mask to break, and she bowed down to the unknown...she humbled.
The practice of yoga is a continuos reminder of that. No matter how advanced we think we are there is always something new, something unknown, and we must be humble, we must accept, in order to learn and advance.
Maybe today you take a moment to think what your small door is....
Can you come close to the floor and enter in all humility, softness and sweetness?