February 2 2014
Somewhere along the way I learned to avoid awkward at all costs. I got good at being careful and cautious (interestingly, the opposite of awkward is clever). I curated every word, every move for fear of being judged. I clung to a watered-down version of life that enabled me to duck exposure and accountability. But while I often escaped embarrassment, I avoided exceptional.
In Banks Benitez talk on Embracing Awkwardness he says “Awkwardness is when you show your true self but don’t mean it. How can we go through our lives and not show our true self?!?!?!?!”
This past year of surviving divorce and starting over has brought awkward back into my life in a big way. Every new experience has had the raw and humiliating essence of my messy and confusing teenage life. Comical at times and excruciating in others, what I find now, however, is a new resiliency to be gentle in those clunky moments. I acknowledge that in so many ways, I am a beginner again. And it is in those spaces of uncomfortable and awkward that we grow.And so for today’s practice, we are going to embrace awkward.
ON THE MAT
Come to standing at the top of your mat in mountain pose. And take a deep breath.
Now…forget everything you know about the practice. I mean it. Unlearn right alignment, right thinking. right intention. And just breath. What is brand new about this moment? Can you acknowledge that you have never been here before in this way? What is it like to be a beginner again in your body?
Draw your right knee in to your chest, hands to your hips and just pay attention to the balance, or rather, the imbalance for a moment. Wobbly, unstable, awkward, yes? Perfect Now, open the knee out lateral and bring it into tree pose (foot inside inner thigh or calf). Once you’ve got the shape, start to create a little chaos by swaying your upper body back and forth the way a tree sways in the wind. That’s right. Be willing to be knocked off your center. Be less cautious and more curious. If you are comfortable in your pose, then you are not taking enough of a risk. Be willing to fall. Be willing to fail. And then, see what is there for you to learn when you let yourself experience awkward in the safety of your practice.
OFF THE MAT
Be a spectator of your life today. Notice the places in your life where you are being careful and clever. How might you be avoiding connection by avoiding awkwardness? What are our strategies for hiding our true selves?
As an experiment, could you go about your day with permission to be unedited? A first version of yourself as you experience the world around you. Can you tell the whole, awkward truth and nothing but the truth at all times? Can you let yourself be seen as the perfectly imperfect true you?
In “The Daring Way”, Brene Brown has an awesome practice of issuing permission slips for getting vulnerable. I’m issuing one for YOU. You have permission to be uncool, loud, confused, clumsy, dramatic, silly, wrong, ecstatic and 100% fully alive. So let’s drop the awkward armor that prevents us from real connection and true revealing and just show up.
Be awkward. Be awesome.