This was one question we had at our bookclub for “hand wash cold” by Karen Maezen Miller the other night. The idea being that we forget how to listen to ourselves and know how to treat ourselves; sometimes we need the delicate cycle or hand wash.
Therefore someone asked the question – “what does your label read?” I thought about it for a moment and remembered how I treat my labels. Interesting enough I often cut out the labels. First off they bother me when I wear the clothes and I like not remembering the size, where I got it and breaking free of what someone else was telling me to do with it. I feel the clothing item is mine and that includes my own mistakes with it. Interesting what that says about me though and that is just what I thought when asked this question.
I often find those who want the answers to yoga and mediation; are they doing it right, up to someone else’s standards, is it historically correct, and is popular? It can often hold many back from yoga as well when they don’t feel they live up to the standards they have seen. “I can’t touch my toes” “I’m not flexible” “I can’t put my foot behind my head.”
All my life I have welcomed the chance to know many groups of people, be open minded to other’s and know that everything I think I know will change again. For this reason it didn’t surprise me to notice my answer to this question and that my yoga practice is this way as well. I never consider myself as practicing one style of yoga. I won’t call myself after a specific practice and I believe in mixing the great items from all of them to fit the day, moment or person. I do the same politically though as well – I never associate myself with one party or belief.
How often can we say we treat our lives this way though? I’m not saying having labels is a bad thing, however it isn’t the only way. Often we want to live our lives within the boundaries – looking for perfection or comparing ourselves so we can be accepted. We live in this fear. We seek the answers from others – doctors, lawyers, mechanics, teachers etc, without trusting ourselves in the process. At some point you have to take the responsibility and make your own decision – even if that means you make a mistake.
As Karen Maezen MIller says “our practice is with our bodies as they are right now”. No other person can tell me exactly how something feels as we have different experiences to begin with. We just have to take in all of the suggestions and decide from there what is right for us.
We have to recognize when the clothes we have need to be changed, have to be replaced and know that they served their purpose and let go of them so we can move on. My practice isn’t the same as it once was and it shouldn’t be. I always thought it was about applying myself to what I wanted, then living with the disappointment when it didn’t happen and trying it again tomorrow; always trying to get to a place that I once had or wanted. Yet it isn’t that way at all. My practice from my 20’s is quite different from my 40’s and will change again in my 60’s (if I’m lucky). My body and mind are different, changing and my practice should change with it as well.
So I guess if a label could be found in my clothes, I’d have to say it reads “One Size Does Not Fit All”.