Give Yourself Room: By Tiffany Geach
Last Friday I was in a panic because I didn't have a theme for my class. Granted, in today's high-stress world, it doesn't necessarily take me a lot to go into a panic. Anxiety is running at an all time high through almost everyone I know. People are stressed about a pandemic, an election, financial problems, racial tensions, family life and how we're all going to make it to 2021. Any small problem seems like it would pale in comparison, but really those small things become the straw breaking the camel's back.
The Friday Clear is one of my favorite classes to teach: we do a short meditation, a slow juicy flow and then we take the time to rest... to really rest. We spend almost fifteen minutes in savasana. I like to think of it as a time to tell a story or set an intention for people to think about as they practice and move through class. The Friday Clear always seems to go beyond the physical movements to me, so not having some profound thought or observation to share was stressing me out - not exactly the goal of Friday's class.
People are coming in, setting up their mats and chatting and I still have no idea what I'm going to say. I'm pretty sure I even told them as much. But then it hit me like a ton of yoga blocks - I don't have to say anything. I don't have to justify this space I provide for people to move and relax and think and breathe by delivering some sort of message. It's not their cost of admission into the yoga room. They don't need to make this class a cerebral exercise or an opportunity for personal growth. Nobody needs a reason to come to class and relax for an hour.
But it's also bigger than that. Sure, you don't need to hear a big speech about breathing intention just to relax for an hour; but you also don't need to justify to your friend why you can't come to their party - a simple "we can't make it" should suffice. We have developed this aspect of our lives where we're asked to understand WHY we make the decisions we do, to understand the implications of our actions, and the consequences that might join them. But you should also have the choice to explain that to others.... or not.
The flip side of this coin is also being able to hear "no" as a complete sentence or not push back when there's an answer we don't like. If our in-laws have political beliefs we find frustrating or your friend is in a relationship you don't understand, maybe don't angrily drill into them, demanding explanations and justifications for their decisions. I can't make it okay for me to be given space for my thoughts and choices without granting it for others.
We need to allow breathing room for others in the same way we crave it for ourselves. The more room we make, the more space we can create for productive conversation, for empathy, for discourse and for change.