Death (or... LIFE!) By Embarrassment

Just before class begins I often demo a posture and give a short verbal preview of what is to come.  Over time, I’ve become very comfortable standing in front of class with all eyes on me.  However, on one particular evening as I demoed a posture, I absentmindedly scratched at my face; a habit that’s lingered since the beginnings of my acre days as a teenager.  As I stood up I could feel some cold wetness on my face, so I wiped it with the back of my hand and there, before my eyes, was an unusual sight.  Lo and behold, I was bleeding…from my face…in front of nearly 30 people, all of whom were staring at me.  And as if this moment couldn’t be more humiliating, it just happened to be one of those times where the bleeding came fast, furious and unrelenting.  I realized then that I had two options; play it off and try to pretend as if nothing happened, or own the cringe-worthy moment, step out and deal with it.  My pride told me to play it off, but I knew better.  So I announced to the class that I needed a moment to deal with my adult acne and retrieved a tissue from the lobby.  When I returned we all had a good laugh, class resumed and something miraculous happened…life continued. 

A fairly accurate representation of the awkwardness that ensues prior to each class.                                             PC: Kati Beshore

A fairly accurate representation of the awkwardness that ensues prior to each class.                                           

PC: Kati Beshore

That was just one of the many mortifying moments I've endured since starting this wild adventure.  I’ve had the pleasure of chasing and killing a cockroach in a class full of people (more than one time I might add).  Roach murder weapons include a yoga block, a water bottle, and the closest shoe I could grab.  Other noteworthy embarrassing moments include: knocking down a student, stepping on student’s glasses, stepping on student’s hair, kicking a remote at a student’s face, and the ultimate one, breaking my finger with my own foot, IN A YOGA POSTURE (face palm).  There are many others, but there’s only so much a person can relive in one day before overdosing on vulnerability and humiliation. 

I suppose by now you are probably feeling devastated that I am not the perfect person you thought I was (or maybe that’s just what I’m feeling…#projection).  So why share all this “shame” with the world? I mean geez Des…was there not enough suffering the first time around?  Reflecting on all of these experiences, I tried to figure out why each instance only derailed me for a few moments.  After all, I’ve had various embarrassing moments in life that sent me into a tailspin and affected me for days, weeks and sometimes longer.  So what is different about me now? Well, I know deep down who I am, what defines me, and more importantly, what doesn’t.  Acne, cockroaches, and mistakes do not make me who I am.  When we believe that the wrong things define who we are, we create a world of unnecessary mental distress.  FREE YOURSELF.  You have the ability to create your own heaven or your own hell. Unfortunately, we often tend to create the latter and live eternally there.  Seneca pointedly said “You are afraid of dying, but come now, how is this life of yours anything but death?” Even better, Marcus Aurelius says, “Choose not to be harmed — and you won’t feel harmed.  Don’t feel harmed — and you haven't been.”

As you move about your day today encountering obstacles, people and difficult experiences, ask yourself; does this define me?  Does this have any effect or bearing on me as a person?  Most likely it does not.  So let it float on by and enjoy the beautiful peace that results from letting it go.

-Desiree Heckman