How many times a day does someone offer you help?
And, how many times do you refuse?
I was diving in Mexico last year and I met a girl on the boat ride to our dive site. She was friendly (more than I was) and introduced herself while I tried to be as friendly and open to just talk to a stranger. I immediately felt something strong coming from this person, maybe today I would be better at describing it. She said she was a frequent diver of that site and she also was an expert in dreams. We talked about my (wicked slash repetitive) dreams and what snakes meant. Then she told me that she saw in me a strong and independent woman and the problem is that I might not be good at letting other people help me. Of course I denied the charges immediately, I have no issue with others helping, at all. Like, at, all.
We finished our dive and went back to shore. Got off the boat and a guy came up to ask me if I needed help with my equipment. And you can guess: I said no. He insisted. I said: no. Then she looked at me, and laughed.
She then told me on the side: you see? why don’t you just say yes? it’s help, it’s free, let others help.
It’s been a long time since then but that conversation kept ringing in my head and it became obvious that I did (do) struggle with it. I found myself refusing every help available. Sometimes I even think my eyes would read: Don’t you dare helping me. And now with my yogini-wannabe life I can but make a reference to this in the attempt to help other yogi-wannabes in their quest to utter fulfillment (or any other quest) through yoga.
The problem with accepting help:
-We feel the other has power on us (or that we give them the power)
-We judge ourselves for not having been able to auto-fulfill our need
We are idiots We are idiots
In my short and new experience as a teacher, or assisting other teachers, I have noticed a larger than life resistance to the help we offer to a student. I think the main reasons are:
-I, as a student, think the teacher thinks I cannot do something.
Get this. If the teacher is adjusting me, it must be because he thinks that I cannot do this or that asana like the others do, but I can (or so I think), so I will resist and continue practicing like I do, because the teacher doesn’t know that I can do it like the others do. Too much judgment. Too much thinking. And why am I basing my practice on how the others do? Accept the help!
-I as a student, think the teacher is bringing me back. Why is the teacher telling me to step instead of jump. To square my hips? No, if I square the hips then I cannot reach as far. To flatten my back? no way! then my forehead won’t reach my knee! We feel defeated. As if they had brought us from first grade to kindergarden in a blink. Reality: the teacher probably wants you to strengthen a part of your practice, so that you can grow and do the jump slash bend slash reach, better. Accept the help!
-The teacher doesn’t know. Well, we aren’t wise geniuses fallen from the sky and we are most definitely not here to teach you everything. But we can, sometimes, teach you something, as little as: flatten your back. We aren’t there to piss you off. And I am pretty sure sometimes you ARE pissed off, because we told you something that made the pose more difficult, or because we adjusted you in a way that didn’t allow you to touch your toes with your nose (if anyone can?). Accept the help. Forgive. Be humble. Take the hand and next time you think to yourself “Don’t you dare helping me”, go back and check how many times during one day you pushed help back. Because you thought it was too weak to accept it.
In yoga, and in life, take the help.