“Let us be in the seat of the Learner,” Mabel, the yoga teacher, said as we sat cross-legged on our yoga mats, at the beginning of the session. Let us be in this moment as if it’s our first, she implied. Let us be in our bodies as if we’ve just met them – no memories of what they can and can’t do, of the pains and restrictions we carry with us.
Let us be in the seat of the learner.
Let us take this moment as the first moment … and that moment and that moment. Every thought, every movement is a discovery. In the seat of the learner we don’t know what we can do and what we can’t. We don’t know what we don’t know and, in that seat, impossible dissolves into I’m possible.
All past restrictions, failures and labels dissolve. I’m no longer a writer and teacher. I’m a … mmm, I’m a … well, I’m not sure what I am. Let me just be with not Knowing, not remembering, not reaching for the familiar daily recall of everything that brought me to this point. Let me not reach at all. Not reach out. Reach in. See what’s there from the learner’s seat.
“Hmm, what’s this? Oh, a leg. I wonder what it does. Aha, it moves out, it moves back. And what’s looking at it? Feels roundish. Yes, two eyes in a round ball, some curves, holes and pieces attached. Scattered bits of hair. Aha, there’s a light through that part … a window? There’s others, sitting so.”
I feel each part of my body – my toes, inside and outside, knees, thighs, chest, arms, head. I observe with little interest. Little analysis. I just observe, easily forgetting the thought I had a minute ago, the thought I had a second ago. I am in this thought. Then that thought.
A friend has messaged me, asking to meet for coffee this morning. I say yes. I may have had plans but this request is there so I accept it. A simple choiceless decision.
I know I need to be at work later so I’ll be there, not thinking or wondering what I’d do then. I just know I’ll have coffee with Anne and then be at work.
Becoming a wind-blown leaf that knows not the tree that birthed it nor the end that will befall it. Open, accepting. Not happy. Not sad. Just content. Just being.
Mabel called this purnattva, a Sanskrit word that embodies this thought: When I start to think and wonder how I could be just this body, I start to loosen my identification with it and begin to feel free.
Later in the session, while doing standing poses, some wobbled and faltered, their balance not perfect. She said, “Let your foundation be whatever is touching the ground.” She said this as we moved from Warrior II then into Triangle.
Let your foundation be whatever is touching the ground.
Let us not lean on our instability, on what’s not working. Let us move from gratitude and from a nice-thought space to a knowing, grounded one. From “I’m grateful for feeling happy” to “I know I have a regular income, a wife, house and car. The evidence doesn’t lie. What I have I have and let those be my foundation. Not happy. Not sad. Just content. Just “there they are”.
I can open myself to knowing that I don’t know to not knowing what I don’t know and let that be okay. In this moment of stillness, in the learner’s seat, with whatever is touching the ground, I have a sense of awakening to a planless life, an opportunistic emptiness from which could birth ideas none could have thought of while tightly in bud.
Only from openness does the flower bloom and throw its glory.
Only from letting go does the seed fly from the tree and start anew.
From the seat of the learner, grounded where we touch, we’re possible.