Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Don't Look

When I go to yoga class, I like to get there early, and stick my mat way up in the front of the class, usually in one corner.

Why, you might wonder, do I like to practice right at the front of the room? There are a few reasons, and some of them translate to how I carry out my beading practice, too.

First of all, the whole idea of a good yoga practice is not to compare yourself to what anyone else in the room is doing. Harder than it sounds, I know: as soon as you push back into your first Downward Facing Dog, you can see exactly what the person behind you is doing, or the person on either side of you. And you always want to compare YOUR asana to what someone else is doing! Are they going a little deeper than you? Are their feet flat on the floor? Are their knees bent?

It's crazy. Yoga is not a competition! So, in order to make it so that I can't see what anyone else is doing (except for the teacher, because I want to make sure that I'm understanding her instructions), I plop myself up in the front of the room so that when it comes time to do some of the really difficult poses, I can focus just on my own body, and not on what my friends are doing.

Beading, or hell, any other kind of art, can be the same way. If you let yourself look too hard at what someone else is doing, you're going to start thinking badly about your own abilities and gifts. So what if someone happens to be an insanely talented sculptural peyote stitch artist? If I start comparing myself to someone who has been beading for longer than I've been alive, yeah, I might start to get a little bit depressed.

On that note, it can be good to see what someone else is doing, both in yoga and in beading, if you look at it in the right frame of mind.

A couple of weeks ago at a particularly challenging vinyasa class, I came to the conclusion that my body makes no sense whatsoever. I'm very open and flexible in the hips, but my hamstrings are so tight that I can't do a standing forward bend without bending my knees, too. (Most people who are flexible in the hips the way I am are also very loose in the hamstrings, or backs of the legs, too.)

So, it's hard for me to watch someone else do a perfect forward bend with straight knees. If I let myself think about it too much, I get really frustrated - I mean, I've been doing this for six months now, every single day. Why aren't MY hamstrings getting loose and flexible?

But then I take a look at my teacher, and I understand that we have different abilities, and different backgrounds, and that's why she can do all these asanas and forward bends and core-working poses and not have to do all the modifications that I have to do.

Again, same with beading and art. Look at what other artists are doing and be INSPIRED by that, not frustrated. Look at what another artist does and set yourself a goal, not necessarily to match the skill and technique of the other artist, but to be able to go just as deep into yourself and find what's there in order to create great art.

Does that make any sense at all?

Right now, I'm off for a yoga class, two meetings, and goodness knows what else today has in store for me...


Unknown said...

Makes perfect sense to me! What a great way to look at "competition"!

Heather371 said...

Thank you so very much for this post. I've been struggling lately with this very issue and competition. Feeling inspired :)


Lana Z said...

Makes perfect sense to me! My dance teacher once told me: don't look around and compare yourself to others. This made my life on a dance floor so much easier! Everyone has their own journey! My creative process is much more pleasurable and productive when I only focus on my own ideas and the beads I have! Thank you for a great post!

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