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Friday
Jul252008

Viva La Indifference

By Bonnie Starr Mandell-Rice

I remember years ago hearing that hate is not the opposite of love, indifference is. That made sense to me at the time, because hate and love (as many think of or experience them) involve passion and energy, though hate is an intense negative (low vibration) energy, while love is an intense positive (high vibration) energy. Indifference is the absence of any charge, positive or negative. Thus it seemed to have even less in common with love than does hate. Besides, I certainly didn’t want boys to be indifferent to me! I wanted them to be charged toward me, drawn to me like iron to a magnet. I have come to know, however, that indifference, when viewed simply as a neutral state, is not an absence of love but an expression of love that is unconditional, a state that simply allows what is to be what it is.

One of my great lessons in indifference came a few months back during a yoga class. As those of you who have been receiving my ezine for awhile know, I take Bikram yoga classes. Yoga, as with everything else in our lives if we pay attention, is a way in which we can come to learn more about ourselves.

Over the past 18 months since I began these classes, I have had a variety of teachers, each of whom has brought their own unique personality to the class. Some are inspirational, some are funny, some are energizing, and one was, well, bland. Some of the teachers offer specific corrections to students, and I appreciate receiving the corrections because that is how I improve my yoga practice. Other teachers praise postures well done, and I must confess that, when the praise has been directed toward me, I have been known to lap it up like a kitten does cream. To mix metaphors, I am a bit like Pavlov’s dogs that way – toss me a bone of praise and I will repeat the action to get another bone. The "bland" teacher offered neither correction nor praise, sticking instead to the Bikram script, which directs each step of every pose.

One day when I arrived at the yoga studio, the bland teacher was there. I felt disappointed, and noticing that, I caught myself thinking that the class would not be very good. I knew, however, that that did not have to be the case and that how good the class would be for me was up to me, not the teacher.

A few minutes later, as I stood facing myself in the mirror, waiting for the teacher to give the first instruction, I decided to dedicate the class to myself and to God (Higher Power). I had a great class. The teacher was the way that teacher always was. What I realized was that I was different. In classes with teachers who inspired me or praised me, I was doing the yoga practice for them as much (if not more than) for me. Because I liked them, I wanted them to like me, so I sought their approval. When I think of it, I realize I had not outgrown wanting to be teacher’s pet. On the other hand, I was detached about/indifferent to whether the "bland" teacher (who, by the way, is a very nice person) liked or approved of me. How liberating!

While I still enjoy the occasional praise, I find myself needing it less and less. My yoga practice is for me, not for my teacher. I also find that, while I still am holding onto the vision of my being able to do the perfect standing bow – essentially equivalent to doing a split while balancing on one leg, upper body parallel to the floor (it really is a beautiful posture when executed correctly!) – I am much gentler with myself when I do not even come close to accomplishing that or the other postures with any grace or ease.

I keep the vision but in each moment I remain indifferent – not attached – to the outcome. I just follow the instructions and let my body do the best it can in the moment. In that way, I am fully in the moment – not judging or criticizing or even praising it or myself. I can love myself where I am, as I am. I find too that when I do that, my yoga is better. If, when I fall out of a posture or don’t go as deep as I would like, I do not get upset or frustrated or judge it, I stay in the moment and the next posture is free to be what it is. Because I come to the next posture with an "empty" mind, one not dwelling on how well I did or didn’t do in the previous posture, I am better able to execute the next posture.

When we are present in and to the moment, whatever it brings, everything is "perfect," which means simply that all is as it "should" be. We know that it is so because it is what it is. How can anything be other than what it is in any given moment? Yet everything and everyone constantly is changing, sometimes imperceptibly. When we neither require the moment to be different nor cling to it, it flows effortlessly into the next moment, and the next and the next. Similarly, when we do not demand that we or another be a certain way and just accept where we or they are in the moment, who we are flows from moment to moment, from one way of being, feeling and doing to another. This indifference frees us to love ourselves, each other, and life exactly as we are and it is, for we need neither ourselves, nor others, nor life to be different than it is.

COPYRIGHT: @ Bonnie Starr Mandell-Rice 2008. This article may be forwarded provided that the complete article and this copyright information are included. This article will be archived at www.transformativecoaching.net.