Want, need

Sunday morning, 9 am.

Two questions linger in the room.

What do you want? What do you need?

These are hard questions.

Many of us are somewhat disconnect from these answers. We are accustomed to deferring to other’s needs. Maybe even basing our needs off theirs.

Where do you want to eat? Oh, where ever you want to go is fine.

Many of us are even uncomfortable with our wants. They feel selfish. Our needs feel needy.

And in some cases, we just have no freaking clue what we really want. Or need.

So in offering this theme to my 9 am Sunday group, I knew they would either flop or flourish.

We started with vague instruction: sit in any comfortable position.

We did some stretching with the invitation to explore within the shape.

We did one salutation together with lunge options.

And then… it was “freestyle.” Cutting the cord.

Rather than instructing, I offered words like instinct, urge, guidance, primal, trust, voice, listening, uninhibited, unexpected.

In beautiful, unsynchronized rhythm, they moved, weaving in a twist and a balance pose of their choosing. Some rested, some improvised. Twenty minutes later we met in Tadasana. They were sweaty and glowing.

At one point a student turned to me, beaming, and said, “You should be recording this—it’s like a beautiful dance!”

And it was. The sight of it actually brought tears to my eyes. People so connected to their experience, completely embodied in what they were choosing, trusting a voice that came from elsewhere—even if it didn’t make sense. Even if it was different.

After freestyle we did some standing poses with the option of challenging transitions and variations. Then an inversion. We ended with stretching and a 15 minute Supta Baddha Konasana with all the bells and whistles. All the while the questions lingered… what do I want, what do I need?

The group seemed to stay connected, or at least open, to them.

I’ve taught classes and been to classes where freestyle time is offered. It doesn’t always work. It can be awkward and forced. People would rather be told what to do.

I don’t know why it worked today. Sometimes you never know.

But today several people commented that it was exactly what the “needed.”

***

So I ponder these for myself tonight, as I have been the last few days… years. And offer them to you.

We used the metaphor of the garden in class — less ego/I want and need, more what will best serve the whole garden of you. Are there things that need pruned? Seedlings you’re caring for? Is it time for a redesign? Or can you sit on a bench and enjoy the roses?

***

Do you know what you want? When choosing between two types of tea, or picking out shoes?

Do you know what you need? What you need vs what you want? What you need to be happy?

***

And on days I don’t know, faithless days, I go to Mary Oliver. (The other poem from class is here.)

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

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6 Responses to “Want, need”


  1. 1 Keleigh May 17, 2010 at 5:40 am

    Wow…I was just meditating and these questions kept popping in: “What do I really want? What do I intend to consciously create?” I’m disappointed I missed such a beautiful class…yet clearly I’m feeling the same “flow.” Thank you for sharing this! xo

    • 2 blogasana May 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm

      w.o.w. i should be surprised, kel, but i’m not. clearly you are tapped into the rhythms around you!! in a way, you were there =)

  2. 3 Liz May 17, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    I miss you and the studio. This sounds lovely.

  3. 5 Elizabeth May 18, 2010 at 4:52 am

    You are the second person to post this poem in a few days. Clearly I am meant to read it. :)

    My needs feel selfish. Which I was reminded of again this morning. You can imagine how my wants feel. These are good questions to ponder tomorrow.

    • 6 blogasana May 19, 2010 at 2:28 am

      mmm… i love it when a message is so clear there’s no subtlety. you’ve been tuned into that voice a lot lately – kudos for listening. leaving the job is no small leap. it’s an inspiration. big squeeze….


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