Two weeks ago, I bought new glasses (!). After a five-year hiatus from the world of fashion specs, I was eager to try something funky–wearing contacts on a daily basis means that your glasses can be a little wild. Enjoying my new eye wear extensively, I wore them to a yoga class last week.
Yoga is not particularly conducive to glasses-wearing–the upside down, bending, hanging the head, lying down–it’s not dangerous for spectacles, but it’s surely not as friendly as, say, reading. I quickly realized: looking at the details of the world around you (which is, one might argue, the point of glasses) is NOT the point of yoga.
So, I took my glasses off.
What a change in perspective–no longer being able to see the little specks in other peoples’ eyes, I had to face the logs in my own “eyes.” Without having others’ twisty bodies to judge (their form, their wobbliness, their breathing), I had to pay attention to my own. My classmates dimmed in my view and I was forced to notice anew the stretched, achy, wobbly parts of myself–physically and spiritually.
My new yoga studio has opened up the world of yoga practice to me in a way I’d never understood it before: thinking of yoga (paying attention to your breathing and your body) as a sort of abstract (academically-speaking) or microcosm of your entire life. “Are you rushing from pose to pose?” my yogi asks; “Are you trying to ignore the transitions in your own life?” Is it very very hard to calm your mind or to still your breath today at yoga class? Are you, perhaps, running yourself ragged at work or home, or ignoring the need your body has for a bit of rest? Some days in class, your body is strong and balanced and you can take on more difficult postures for longer periods of time–and some days, you are just struggling to stay vertical (or horizontal!) for a few breaths. Yoga practice allows you the chance to be gentle and patient and compassionate to your own body and your own mind, that hopefully, out in your life, you can start to take steps toward compassion and gentleness toward yourself and others.
Yesterday in yoga class, I had my contacts back in, and I remember who was able to do all the advanced positions and who wasn’t–but I was one of the latter, and I wonder if perhaps wearing my glasses to yoga more often might be a way of removing the log so often lodged in my eye.