July | 2010

Lesson No. 29: Finding Center & Losing Center

Finding Center

While it has taken almost 4 weeks of consistent practice for William to become a ‘Full-Fledge Bike Rider’, he did actually accomplish a few minutes of two-wheeling on his third day trying. Moments before this accomplishment, he was in deep protest of my ‘boring’ guidance. Enduring his objections, I continued my lessons. While he was sitting on his bike, he begrudgingly let me place one hand on his low-belly and one hand on his low back. I explained that this area of his body was his Core, his Center, from where he could find his strength and balance.

I asked him to focus on this area, and to make it firm. I described how to find his balance from his Core instead of from his hands on the handlebars. I walked along side him with my hands on his Core, as he propelled himself with his feet on the ground. Based on my lesson, he made up a little chant:  “Walk, Walk, Glide. Feel My Core Inside. Walk, Walk, Glide, Feel My Core Inside.”

And Voila! Within minutes he was able to ride! Excitedly he burst, “I’m definitely not a ‘training-wheels kid’ anymore.”

Losing Center

After his first two full minutes of riding, I exclaimed we should celebrate his success! Instantly the conversation turned to Silly Bands. (If you don’t know what Silly Bands are… lucky you… But if you are curious visit: http://www.sillybandz.com/.)

“I’m not BUYING you a reward” I said, "but I will make you the dinner of your choice.” Then he asked if he could buy Silly Bands with his own money and I agreed to take him to the store on the way home. When we arrived the store was closed and his tears immediately began to flow.

Distraught, he completely forgot about the Accomplishment he embodied only minutes before. Literally he lost his CENTER. I was awed by how quickly William’s new sense of accomplishment was replaced with an experience of 'Deficit' as he did not get his external reward. It made me alarmingly aware of how I have to be more mindful in the ways that I help fuel this reward system. It also offered me great insight to how easily and habitually we lose our center. How quickly we forfeit our inner satisfaction – to something outside ourselves.

We all do this… all day long. In our yoga practice, our work, even in our relationships – we reach for the rewards and not for the internal sense of contentment and satisfaction. Yogis make a life-time practice of choosing deeper enduring contentment over fleeting pleasures.