January 2, 2015 and I had scheduled a 2 hour workshop at the yoga studio on Intention and Compassion for the New Year. I was so excited to lead this workshop, as it is probably two of my favorite topics. After all, I am always discussing the importance of intention setting and compassion is one of my favorite practices to teach. The day before, New Years day, I was feeling very ill. The current flu-like thing going around hit my body hard and I knew I was not going to be physically able to teach the following day. I was very attuned to what my body was telling me yet my mind was preoccupied and focused on the many students I would let down and disappoint by not showing up. Therefore, instead of cancelling the night before I waited till the last possible minute on the 2nd to call for a replacement. I knew I did the right thing as I spent most of the day in bed recuperating. My body was certainly appreciative yet my mind was still preoccupied with feeling responsible for disappointing others. Wow. I sat in awe watching my mental process unfold between guilt, disappointment, feeling badly, and feeling responsible.
It immediately struck me as the revisiting of an old familiar theme this feeling responsible. It is one that I can clearly feel in my own body, the heaviness in my shoulders, the tension that builds in my neck. I knew staying home was the most compassionate thing for me to do for myself. I do try, as much as I can, to practice what I preach. Therefore, I knew I also needed to hold this lesson compassionately as well. I saw it as an opportunity to relearn once again.
What leads us to feel so responsible for others? A perfectly competent teacher took over for me that day. I am sure the 30 students that showed had a fine experience. Granted they may not have had what they thought they were going to have but nonetheless I am sure they had a fine experience. I realized a great deal of feeling so responsible comes from the ego. There is an ego grasp that says somehow somewhere he, she, they will not be o.k. without me. The idea that others will not be o.k. without us, whether we are aware of it or not, festers in our mind and body and grows. It grows large and often lingers in the body as the many aches and pains that we feel. We often carry the weight of others but it is time to ask for what reason? Is it that if we let this idea of responsibility go that we may also have to let go a little bit of ego at the same time? I have noticed that letting go of the responsibility of others, while very freeing on the one hand, also creates a little bit of sadness on the other. My relearning lies in this area. Can I step away and be with the sadness that I may not be needed as much as I think I am? It is not the easiest of questions/awareness’s to be with. Yet, if we do not ask the question we tend to act from feeling responsible toward others rather than from the truth. Had I decided to push my body that day and show up, it would have been exactly that. Just showing up in body but not in heart. Instead, when we attend to the truth, we attend to the heart, and from there we show the compassion for both others and ourselves.
I encourage you the next time you feel that “heaviness of the world” upon your shoulders to ask the questions, who in fact put it there and what would happen if I was to let it go? Maybe you can even allow yourself to let your shoulders fall, take a nap, and let someone else take over for a while.