‘Competitive Mindfulness’

I’m smiling, as I read this article posted on FaceBook by a friend:

Against ‘Competitive Mindfulness’ | Child Mind Institute.

I reminds me of my first yoga teacher, who introduced me to Iyengar yoga when I was in college at University of California Santa Cruz (yes, the Banana Slug school, but we didn’t have the official mascot when I was there).

I signed up for PE, because they offered yoga, and I was curious.

I was amazed at the discipline, and the challenge of the Iyengar approach.  If you’ve practiced yoga in other contexts (Bikra-“hot yoga”, Ashtanga, flow, Kripalu, etc), the big difference in Iyengar practice is that there is great attention given to proper alignment – the teacher doesn’t just allow the students to throw themselves into postures (risking injury), but assists and encourages modifications that accommodate individual levels of strength and flexibility and unique body types.  The story of the founder, B.K.S. Iyengar, is an amazing one – he was a sickly child, and through the practice of yoga, he improved his own health, and lives today, at the ripe age of 95!  I had the wonderful opportunity to see him speak many years ago, on one of his last trips to the US, and he was amazing.

Anyway, this first teacher, whose name I sadly do not recall, said one thing in class, about midway through the semester, when I had been practicing for awhile, that I have never forgotten.  She said “You do yoga like you do life.”

And, while in Triangle Pose (or maybe it was Half-Moon), struggling to get myself into perfect alignment, I heard her words, and I almost fell over laughing!  Because I realized that I was practicing “competitive Yoga”!  I was trying to be the best – the most flexible, the most perfectly aligned, the Best!  And, yes, that’s how I tend to approach life.

Happily, with age and experience, I have given up on the illusion of perfection, but I still have a competitive streak.  It’s useful to be aware of it. But not to be trapped by it.

Oh, and about the article on “Competitive Mindfulness” – I can completely see some overachieving parents, hoping to raise perfect children, going overboard with the idea of meditation as a path to balance and harmony, and creating additional stress for themselves and their kids!

Have we all gone mad?  Let’s bring back a little sanity and sense to parenting in the US!

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